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Film / High Art

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High Art is a 1998 Canadian indie romantic drama film written and directed by Lisa Cholodenko.

It follows the brief relationship between Lucy Berliner (Ally Sheedy), an art photographer, and Syd (Radha Mitchell), an editor at a photography magazine. While each of them already has a lover, Lucy and Syd find themselves inexorably drawn to each other.

This film provides examples of:

  • Alter Kocker: Lucy's mom. Justified in that she is a Holocaust survivor who grew up in Germany.
  • Bury Your Gays: Lucy.
  • Disposable Fiancée: It's hinted that Syd isn't that happy with James and their relationship in the start of the movie, and she loses interest in him completely once she meets Lucy.
  • Dogged Nice Guy: James, who suffers in silence—up to a point.
  • Drugs Are Bad: Averted with most of the tertiary characters; played straight with Lucy and Greta.
  • Functional Addict: Lucy, until she's not. Subverted by Greta, who is definitely no longer functional.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: James is a condescending, insecure drip, but it's not irrational to be alarmed when your girlfriend comes home in the middle of the night high on heroin for the first time.
  • Kissing Under the Influence: Between Lucy and Syd, and Syd and James.
  • Love Triangle: Among Lucy, Syd, James and Greta.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Lucy Berliner is usually assumed to be a stand-in for Nan Goldin, a real-life bisexual Jewish photographer.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Syd gives one to James after he makes one too many snide comments about Lucy and her friends.
  • Smoking Is Cool: In this movie, the more "artistic" the character, the more likely that character is to smoke tobacco, do heroin or both.
  • Watch It Stoned: Lucy wants Syd to shoot up with her the first time they have sex.