High Art

on June 12, 1998 by Christine James
   Syd ("Love and Other Catastrophes'" Rahda Mitchell) is a young, ambitious assistant editor at a prominent photo magazine. A chance encounter with her upstairs neighbor, former famed photographer Lucy (Ally Sheedy), turns Syd's life upside-down as she finds herself irresistibly drawn to Lucy's dysfunctional world, as well as to Lucy herself. In spite of the objections of her boyfriend (Gabriel Mann), she jumps with both feet into previously foreign realms, experimenting with drugs and lesbianism and hanging with ultra-hip burn-outs.
   While the film boasts some compelling characters, their self-imposed plights are hard to sympathize with. More problematic is that the central character of Syd is wholly offputting; though it seems she's intended to be strong-willed and independent yet vulnerable, she ultimately comes off as an easily-influenced hanger-on; the ambition and passion Lucy falls for is not evident to the audience. Syd's emotional evolution, which is set up to be the `moral of the story,' is sketchy and dubious instead of profoundly impacting. Much more interesting is Sheedy's Lucy, who is striving to overcome the stagnant life she's spiraled into. Despite the fact that she is the crux of this cadre of slackers, she is the intriguing and likable aspect of this film (though Patricia Clarkson does steal some scenes as Lucy's lackadaisical, self-centered, drugged out Dietrichesque girlfriend Greta).    Starring Radha Mitchell, Ally Sheedy and Patricia Clarkson. Written and directed by Lisa Cholodenko. Produced by Dolly Hall, Jeff Levy-Hinte and Susan A. Stover. An October release. Drama. Rated R for strong sexuality, pervasive drug use and language. Running time: 101 min.
Tags: adha Mitchell, Ally Sheedy, Patricia Clarkson, Written and directed by Lisa Cholodenko, Produced by Dolly Hall, Jeff Levy-Hinte, Susan A. Stover, An October release, Drama, lesbian, experimenting, drugs, independent, emotional, art

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