Art School Confidential

(2006) ** 1/2 R
102 min. Sony Pictures Classics. Director: Terry Zwigoff. Cast: Max Minghella, Sophia Myles, John Malkovich, Jim Broadbent, Matt Keeslar.
Director Terry Zwigoff and screenwriter Daniel Clowes, who previously collaborated on Ghost World, both draw on their art school experiences to savage revenge on their pretentious classmates and dissolute teachers in Art School Confidential. Though the film clearly comes from a place of anger, Zwigoff too often picks up his putty knife when he should be running with scissors, splitting the difference between eager-to-please mainstream spoof and bristling satire. Max Minghella plays Jerome an artist with heart whose sensitivity defines his virgin dating travails and undermines his search for his artistic voice. His terrifying potential futures are embodied by John Malkovich's can't-do teacher and Jim Broadbent's angry, apparently agoraphobic souse. A poorly constructed romantic subplot and a serial-killer storyline prove as poorly integrated as they are essential to the film's subtextual social commentary, but Zwigoff keeps the film moving almost quickly enough to excuse the lazy caricatures who are Jerome's friends and roommates. Art School Confidential doesn't quite add up to the sum of its parts, but some of the parts are pretty amusing all the same.
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