Skip to main content

HIGH ART

USA, 1998 (MIFF 1998, International Panorama)

Director: Lisa Cholodenko

This Cannes 1998 selection is more than just another account of urban lesbian love. High Art embraces the complexities of human connection and difference. At its core is an exploration of how chance encounters can lead to momentous decisions and radical life changes. Lisa Cholodenko's script took the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award at Sundance.

The central character is Syd (Radha Mitchell), an idealistic editor-in-training for an art photography magazine. Even though she is romantically involved with James (Gabriel Mann), the relationship is less than engaging. When she stumbles across the partying and disengaged Lucy (Ally Sheedy), who lives upstairs, a tentative friendship evolves into a passionate affair. Instead of resting on worn lesbian stereotypes, the apparent differences between Syd and Lucy develop into rich complexity.

"The beauty of Cholodenko's writing is that she etches the evolving friendship, and the transformation of the two women, step by step, without any cheating. Lucy and Syd spend a lot of time together, but they don't jump immediately into bed. High Art may contain one of the most candid sex scenes in American film, showing both the heat and the awkward physicaiity between an older, experienced woman and a nervous, insecure novice. But the real revelation is the beautiful Mitchell, last seen in the Aussie romantic comedy Love and Other Catastrophes. Her scenes with Sheedy are so truthfully touching that she's bound to win the hearts of young lesbians on the verge of coming out." - Variety

Lisa Cholodenko commenced her film career in 1990. She initially worked as an Assistant Editor on a number of critically lauded films including John Singleton's Boyz 'n' the 'Hood and Gus Van Sant's To Die For. While studying to attain a Master's Degree in Fine Arts Cholodenko worked with Milos Forman and directed two multi-award-winning shorts: Souvenir (1994) and Dinner Party (1997). High Art is Cholodenko's first feature film.

See also...

THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT

“A generous, nearly note-perfect portrait of a modern family.” - New York Times ... For live-in lesbian couple Jules (Julianne Moore) and Nic (Annette Bening), life with their two teenage ... More »

LOUIS AND FRANK

Alexandre Rockwell excels at well constructed, intelligent comedy, typically made with unusual but highly successful casting choices. Louis & Frank is a comedy about two very different cousins who ... More »

SUGAR TOWN

Sugar Town is reminiscent of Robert Altman's Nashville, The Player and Short Cuts. An observalion that is meant as a compliment and as an indication of the quality company it keeps. The film cuts ... More »

RELAX... IT'S JUST SEX

The highly versatile Jennifer Tilly plays Tara Ricotto, den mother and confidant to a group of gay, lesbian and straight friends in this outrageous Sundance favourite. Very much a quintessential 90s ... More »

BROWN'S REQUIEM

James Ellroy spent the early 80s in an alcoholic haze, stealing womens' underwear from clotheslines when he wasn't on a bender or absorbing a century of crime fiction. From casual work as a drunken ... More »

BEST LAID PLANS

With echoes of the Coen Brothers' debut, Blood Simple (1984), Best Laid Plans is a noir-ish entanglement of lust, betrayal, theft and murder. At all times it remains a film about the perception of ... More »

Select a festival
Search The Film Archive
Browse By Director