High Art

As storytelling it isn'?t always as clean as it might be, but this 1998 first feature by writer-director Lisa Cholodenko is an interesting debut for its nuanced sense of character and its terrific sex scenes—scenes that actually serve character development for a change. A 24-year-old assistant editor (Radha Mitchell, shedding her Australian accent) at a chic photography magazine shares an apartment with her boyfriend but becomes infatuated with an older woman from a well-to-do family (Ally Sheedy), who occupies the apartment over hers; once a well-known art photographer, the woman now inhabits a drug scene and lives with an addicted German actress. When she and the young editor start having an affair, neither is quite sure what's happening at first—and to Cholodenko's credit neither are we. With Patricia Clarkson, Bill Sage, and Tammy Grimes. 101 min.

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