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Art School Confidential (Terry Zwigoff)

Art School Confidential


“Most artists become artists because they have no other way to attract a mate.”


This reoccurring theme in Terry Zwigoff’s (Ghost World, Bad Santa) new film Art School Confidential seems slightly out of grasp. In this adaptation of Daniel Clowes’ short comic story Jerome Platz (Max Minghella) takes off to art school to pursue his dream of becoming “the world’s greatest artist” and to seek out his dream girl, Audrey (Sophia Myles).

Anyone who has experienced “higher” education can identify with the unfolding of Jerome’s disillusionment around his passion for art. His peers bandwagon in pseudo-sophistication around the complexities of their own amateur creations while his professors (Anjelica Houston, John Malkovich, and Jack Ong) act as the demagogues of art amidst their own failed careers. Jerome is left bewildered by the lack of individuality he encounters and disgruntled that he still hasn’t gotten the girl.

The film is filled with the stereotypical icons that college campuses love to breed, the Angry Lesbian, the Vegan Holy-man, the Boring-Blowhard, the Kiss-ass, etc. And then there’s Jimmy (Jim Broadbent) the drunken, failed, yet talented, artist whom Jerome seeks out to hear dribbling sagacity about the real world. Initially these characters conjure some chuckles but by the end of the film they become clichés of clichés and rather boring.

Most artists I know may find relationships inspiring but often struggle with the distraction away from their art that love provokes. Everyone has different motivation that drives their artistic endeavors and the sole purpose of getting laid, perhaps a nice fringe benefit, is both shallow and fruitless providing for a rather pathetic and drawn out boy meets girl moment in the film.

Nonetheless the film almost pulls it off with an interesting twist at the end where Jerome cleverly manipulates pop culture as a means to a very successful end.


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