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Art School Confidential

Released: 2006

Genre: Comedy

Runtime: 1 hr 42 min

MPAA Rating: R

Director: Terry Zwigoff

Starring: Max Minghella, Sophia Myles

From the director of Ghost World and Bad Santa comes this bleakly comic tale of an art student who finds romance and anomie at his new school.

"Art School" Sucks.

Review by: MiamiMovieCritic

Added: 8 years ago

This is the best piece of advice given to the students at the Strathmore Institute, one of those East Coast animal factories where youth and optimism go to die. It's also not a bad suggestion for viewers looking to find meaning and value in Art School Confidential, a black comedy cynically brought to you by the creators of Ghost World.

Loosely based on cult hero Daniel Clowes' experiences as a student at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, ASC stars Max Minghella as Jerome, a bright-eyed freshman majoring in drawing and painting. Jerome is meant to be our surrogate as he falls for Audrey (Sophia Myles), a nude model in one of his classes. He receives crushing reviews from his fellow students, ultimately learning that, in both life and art, phonies win.

For his part, Minghella is able to conjure up an endearing character seemingly out of thin air. Looking like a more darkly handsome clone of Anakin Skywalker, Minghella makes us identify with Jerome's disillusionment and fractured worldview. The rest of the cast members (Steve Buscemi, Anjelica Huston and John Malkovich among them) flesh out the sour-grapes script to the best of their abilities. Jim Broadbent is especially fine as Jimmy, the world's scummiest former art student. But there's too many throwaway characters, too many misguided attempts at screwball sadism.

While misanthropy is certainly an acceptable subject for a film (it worked for Ghost World, didn't it?), the story has to be structured in a way that gives our hero a shot at redemption. ASC is nothing more than one bitter observation after another. It's the worst kind of art: an empty provocation.