Rent High Art (1998)

3.4 of 5 from 80 ratings
1h 42min
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A landmark in independent and gay filmmaking, Lisa Cholodenko High Art is a superbly constructed erotic drameh/fhich charts th tempestuous romantic entanglements between three women. Forty-year-old photographer, Lucy (Ally Sheedy) and her German girlfriend Greta (Patricia Clarkson) are embroiled in a drug-fuelled. -affair. When Lucy's upstairs neighbour, the seemingly innocent 24-year-old blonde Syd (Radha Mitchell) enters their lives, their world changes forever. High Art paints a startlingly real picture of the nature of an all-consuming bond between women, and the effect the haze of drugs and scourge of infidelity can have on that connection.
A cinematic triumph that transcends any simple 'lesbian' tag.
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Lisa Cholodenko
Drama, Lesbian & Gay

1998 Sundance Film Festival Waldo Salt Screenwriting award

Release Date:
Run Time:
102 minutes
DVD Regions:
Region 2
Aspect Ratio:
Full Screen 1.33:1 / 4:3
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Reviews (1) of High Art

Impressive & sensitive - High Art review by PD

Spoiler Alert

Not the sort of thing I'd normally, watch tbh, but during the 'lockdown' etc ... and so pleased I took a punt on this. The strength is mainly Lisa Cholodenko’s script, which totally avoids the usual cliches with considerable sensitivity.

The film revolves around two women whose lives change as a result of a chance meeting in the building where both reside. Protagonist is Syd (superbly played by Rahda Mitchell), a young, idealistic and ambitious editor-in-training at 'Frame', an art photography magazine. Syd enters the flat of her neighbour, Lucy Berliner (Sheedy), as an outsider, suspiciously observing the latter’s friends as they go about their party routines with booze and drugs: (there's an an awful of lot of this - and perhaps the contrast between Syd’s clean and naive world and Lucy’s sophisticated, and, 'decadent' one is perhaps a tad overcooked). But the film's strength is the depiction of how the tentative friendship between Syd and Lucy evolves, and this is totally convincing, the younger Syd striving to achieve professional recognition in an industry driven by fashion and hype, battling with Lucy, the disaffected photographer prodigy who’s seen and done it all. The beauty of Cholodenko’s writing is that she etches the evolving friendship, and the transformation of the two women. I normally just fast forward through any 'sex scenes' on the screen, but here, with the heat and the awkward physicality, it's beautifully portrayed in such a way that we feel less like an awkward, intrusive 'voyeur' and more like a confidante. Similarly, the film also painstakingly dissects the culture of 'heroin chic' and its implications - one scene perfectly captures the ambivalence we feel when torn between self-interest and self-sacrifice, between protecting ourselves from trouble and throwing ourselves into dangerous situations to prove commitment to our longtime companions. Impressive stuff.

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