High Art: Review – Apollo Guide

Posted on 03. May, 2010 by in High Art: Press, Press

Apollo Guide

Brian Webster

Readers’ Rating: 87 (58 votes)

Syd (Radha Mitchell) is finding that life is getting her down. She’s a downtrodden gopher in her work as an assistant editor at an artsy photo magazine. She lives with a tiresome man. Her ceiling even leaks.

But then she meets Lucy (Ally Sheedy), a photographer whose work and bohemian lifestyle both appeal to Syd. Each of these women sees something in each other: Syd sees creativity and freedom in Lucy. In Syd, Lucy sees hope for a life without drug use and a way back in to professional photography. Each has a problematic relationship with a current partner. Both are open to finding someone new, and they are strongly attracted to each other.

We follow Syd and Lucy as they struggle with each other and the people around them. Nothing comes easy for these two. Lucy’s struggles with her partner Greta (Patricia Clarkson), a washed-up, drug-addled former German actress, are particularly compelling.

Mitchell and Sheedy both give strong performances. Although Sheedy has stayed active in the acting business in recent years, her roles this decade have mainly been forgettable parts in forgettable productions. As Lucy, she is anything but forgettable: convincing as a drugged-out and world-weary young woman. Mitchell is also credible as the dissatisfied Syd.

What is High Art trying to tell us? Writer/director Lisa Cholodenko seems to change her mind regularly on that score. Conventionality, commercialism and pretentiousness all come off looking bad, as does drug addiction. Should we stay on the straight and narrow or follow our hearts? High Art doesn’t help us with that either.

While its messages are ambiguous, High Art’s characters are compelling. It might have amounted to more if we could find THE point, but this remains an interesting and worthwhile film.

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