Gay Essential Films To Watch, High Art

Syd (Radha Mitchell) is an intern who has major stars in her eyes, but is unfortunately stuck doing meager intern tasks like fetching coffee and making copies. Her reality is nowhere near High Art. She envisions a brighter future at the photography magazine she works at, Frame. Her career depends upon her drive and desire to do anything to climb to the top. Syd lives with her boyfriend, James (Gabriel Mann), who is less-than-impressed by her gig at the magazine.

One day, raindrops trickle down from the ceiling, and fate brings Syd to the door of her upstairs neighbours, who happen to be the famed photographer Lucy Berliner (Ally Sheedy) and her heroin-addict girlfriend Greta (Patricia Clarkson). Lucy is the antithesis of brownnoser Syd; she is at the epicentre of a world of drugs, booze, and constant partying, all of which caused her to drop off the map of the art world in the first place.

Syd proposes that Lucy submit her work for the next cover of Frame, and Lucy agrees, under the terms that Syd be her senior editor. Their collaboration quickly grows intensely sexual, and a simple working relationship becomes a heated and arduous affair, complete with jealousy on the parts of the two women’s respective partners. As Syd is woven into the fabric of Lucy’s world, she must question if the glory and glitter of the elite world is worth the tradeoff of a hard-earned career and a steady significant other. Is the thrilling emotional tornado of getting involved with someone at the epicenter of a star-studded landscape worth losing sight of what is important?

High Art


High Art is a terrific film about ambition in the arts. It is also a harrowing film about heroin addiction, second perhaps only to Trainspotting in its realism and intensity.”

High Art is masterful in the little details. It knows how these people might talk, how they might respond.”
Roger Ebert

High Art (1998) is a self-conscious and haunting examination of two lives that intersect, painfully and without mercy.”
Sarah Warn, After Ellen

Did You Know?

The character of Lucy Berliner is inspired by the work and life of American photographer Nan Goldin, who is known for her passionately transgressive LGBTQ-themed oeuvre. There are also real life similarities between the actresses Ally Sheedy playing Lucy.  Sheedy dropped out of the film industry ten years prior to High Art, while Lucy had dropped out of the art scene a decade before the film’s story takes place.  Also, Sheedy previously battled an addiction to prescription painkillers while her character Lucy fights a heroin addiction. Review our Gay Themed Films Here

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Alexander Ryll
Launched in June 2014, Gay Essential is the world’s largest gay themed film blog promoting new and rare features. I am helped by some amazing writers and we also cover film festivals in the UK and USA. We are 100% independent, without advertising or funding by film distributors. Help to keep Gay Essential independent by purchasing our merchandise GET (Gay Essential Tees)
Alexander Ryll
- 5 months ago
Alexander Ryll
Alexander Ryll