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By Merle Bertrand | July 13, 1998

Our little Ally is all grown up. Ally Sheedy, that is, the freckle-faced Brat Pack tomboy who’s thrown off her wholesome Hollywood, “Short Circuit”-era vanilla persona for this decidedly spicier, edgier and far grittier fare.
In this solid debut effort from Lisa Cholodenko, Sheedy plays Lucy Berliner, a tough and talented photographer who voluntarily pulled the plug on her career ten years ago. Now rutted in a listless and destructive cycle of heroin-chic slackerdom and mired in an imploding relationship with Gretchen, a blonde German former bombshell with an insatiable drug appetite of her own, Lucy is in desperate need of a breath of fresh air.
Enter Syd (Radha Mitchell), a luscious downstairs neighbor who just happens to be an ambitious assistant editor at the snobbish photography magazine Frame. Drawn first to Lucy’s pictures, then overcome by desire for Lucy herself, an attraction reinforced by the artist’s subtly predatory pursuit of her, Syd manages to jumpstart Lucy’s career, boost her own, and fall in love all at the same time. But not without a cost.
After watching “High Art,” I have to wonder if lesbians ever have any fun, as this was about as somber and moody a love story as I’ve ever seen. An extremely linear, virtually subplot-less storyline and somewhat ponderous pacing also hurt the film.
On the other hand, Mitchell’s Syd was winsomly naive and vulnerable, but what really tipped this one into the “Plus” column was Sheedy’s superb performance. Forgive her the “Short Circuit” schmaltz, folks. This lady can act.

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