Art School Confidential

In 2006  Art School Confidential was released on a limited basis. This was the film's official website. The content below is from its archived pages and other outside sources for reviews.

TomatoMeter Critics 36%   |  Audience 48%


"Art School Confidential" follows Jerome, an art student who dreams of becoming the greatest artist in the world. Arriving as a freshman at a prestigious East Coast art school, filled with every artsy "type" there is, Jerome quickly discovers his affected style and arrogance won't get him very far. When he sees that a clueless jock is attracting the glory rightfully due him, he hatches an all-or-nothing plan to hit it big in the art world and win the heart of the most beautiful girl in the school.

Rating: R (for language including sexual references, nudity and a scene of violence)
Genre: Comedy , Drama
Directed By: Terry Zwigoff
Written By: Daniel Clowes
In Theaters: May 4, 2006  Limited
On DVD: Oct 9, 2006
Box Office: $3,174,973.00
Runtime: 102 minutes
Studio: Sony Pictures Classics


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Critic Reviews

Whether the joke's meant to be on us or on the storytellers, I'm not buying the punchline.

Lisa Schwarzbaum - Entertainment Weekly


Terry Zwigoff and Daniel Clowes plod through a grouchy attack on and example of the pretense and hypocrisy of self-declared artists.

A.O. Scott - New York Times


Enjoyable and reprises the same dyspeptic attitude that infused Ghost World, but ultimately it lacks its predecessor's originality and humanity.

Desson Thomson - Washington Post


It becomes the sort of thing Zwigoff usually holds in contempt, and how depressing is that?

Ty Burr - Boston Globe


Art School Confidential is replete with humorous detail -- in that respect, the student art projects are particularly fine -- but it's the attitude that rules.

J. Hoberman - Village Voice


A satisfyingly bilious satire.

Dennis Lim - Village Voice


There are two movies vying to occupy the same space here: a teen comedy about artistic pretension and academic double standards, and a darker, nastier movie about a serial killer.

Jami Bernard - New York Daily News

Zwigoff's angry expose of this intense, tiny subculture isn't fair to anyone in the art world, but if you can stomach the overstatement, it's often scathingly funny. And it's sometimes scathingly smart.

Amy Biancolli - Houston Chronicle


Simply runs out of things to do once it establishes its ground rules of defining stereotypes and mocking pretension.

Chris Vognar - Dallas Morning News


There's not a single person to like in Art School Confidential, a crucial mistake in a movie filled with mean, shallow and self-absorbed characters.

Michael Booth - Denver Post


Possibly there has never been a movie about the art world that's as much of an eyesore as the coming-of-age oddity Art School Confidential.

David Edelstein - New York Magazine


There is something in the Zwigoffian universe that values such characters [as Jimmy]; having abandoned all illusions, they offer the possibility of truth. I also much enjoyed Broadway Bob.

Roger Ebert - Chicago Sun-Times

Risks more highs and lows than the plaintive, even-toned Ghost World. But both, improbably, have made themselves more or less at home on screen.

Michael Phillips - Chicago Tribune


Even if one disagrees with some of its points, as I do, it offers plenty to mull over.

Jonathan Rosenbaum - Chicago Reader


Against this atmospheric background the characters have the depth of stick figures.

Carrie Rickey - Philadelphia Inquirer


It's a ruckus, veering from one picaresque episode to the next in its eagerness to debunk Hollywood cliches and art world stereotypes, but I prefer untidy novelty to paint-by-numbers storytelling any day.

Colin Covert - Minneapolis Star Tribune


It's pleasant enough, features fine acting in smaller parts, rises occasionally to laughs or plot, but its ambitions and its accomplishments are modest.

Richard Nilsen - Arizona Republic


Curiously, this relentlessly cynical tone turns out sounding refreshingly original compared to the usual pieties in the genre.

Andrew Sarris - New York Observer

[The film] feels insubstantial, echoing without equaling both the coolly ironic edge and heart of Ghost World.

David Rooney - Variety


Art School Confidential (2006) Synopsis

Strathmore Art School is where Jerome Platz (Max Minghella) has come to develop his drawing and painting talent and become the greatest artist of the 21st Century. Surrounded by a collection of art school clichéd misfits, and a cloud of mystery on the campus due to a strangler who has murdered many young female art students, Jerome plies his considerable talent, and is smitten by an older young woman Audrey (Sophia Myles) who models for classes. Jerome makes friends with Audrey discovering she is the daughter of a famous artist, but she has eyes for the unusually straight-laced Jonah (Matt Keeslar) whose art is broad and bold and far from the traditional art of Jerome. His teachers Professor Sandford (John Malkovich) and Sophie (Anjelica Huston) only offer consolation in broad nebulous terms for the students, so Jerome makes friends with the older talented Jimmy (Jim Broadbent) a painter whose art reflects a darkness that Jeromes admires because it is so different from his own positive viewpoint. When Jerome realizes that Audrey is not in love with him he uses Jimmy's art as his own but is surprised by an undercover activity that could be the worst and best thing that could happen to him.

IMDB User Reviews

4/ 10 A Twist of Lime with a Crabapple on Top

25 April 2006 | by Feanim (United States) –

The beginning of this movie was hilarious. Jerome goes to art school and meets zany characters, including his gay roommate, his wannabe filmmaker roommate, and his art teacher (played by John Malkovich). The dialogue was witty. The audience loved the satire of modern art, because we all know how ridiculous modern art can be yet we must be polite and insightful when looking at it. Everyone could relate to the perverted college humor. Unfortunately, all this silliness ended. Right in the middle, the movie took a turn of tone and with it took the refreshingly simple but fun plot.

Art School Confidential suddenly became serious about its characters, including the mysterious strangler. The decision to transform the movie into a serious mystery was it's major flaw. With this move, the writers felt they had to incorporate a more confusing plot to achieve a mysterious tone. By the end, the initial idea of simply amusing the audience was lost because of the poorly-crafted mystery, leaving the audience disappointed.

Why do filmmakers do this? They think because we have paid to see an indie movie, we want an obscure plot twist topped off with an unresolved ending. It's like having ice cream, fun and simple, then someone comes over and adds a twist of lime and tops it off with crab apples! Obscure, but no fun because it tastes weird and you were content with the ice cream by itself. I recommend the first hour of this movie.


Art Film Movie About An Artist At Art School ...Whoa!


Author: fwomp from United States

22 May 2006

Yesterday I went to my local art theater to watch an art film about a future artist attending art school. Whew! I'm glad I got that out!

But lets chat about this art film, shall we? Here we go...

It's got a lot going for it. First and foremost is an impressive script. Obviously the screenwriter, director, producer (or all three) attended art school at some point. And making fun of the people and faculty at such a place is where the comedy in Art School Confidential takes wing. When Jerome (Max Minghella), the main character, begins attending his freshman year at Strathmore Art School, he's quickly introduced to the cliché-riddled cast (the cliché is purposeful and pulled off just as well as the movie GALAXY QUEST). He meets the burned-out art teacher Professor Sandiford (John Malkovich), the beautiful model that every male wants named Audrey (Sophia Myles), the angry lesbian, the teacher's pet/kiss-a$$, the drug addled film student, and a splash of others. There's also a strangler on the loose in the neighborhood which will play a vital role in how Jerome's artistic dreams play out.

The ridiculousness of art school is what really makes this movie work. Jerome is obviously very talented, but other artists whiz by him because art is what the artists say art is. It might be a picture of a car, or a man attaching jumper cables to his nipples and letting current run through him, or a mound of plastic chairs.

Jerome wants to be the next Picasso. He studies hard, tries to get noticed, but nothing seems to work. He's also a virgin and wants desperately to get laid but with the wacked out student body at Strathmore, he's got his work cut out for him.

As Jerome works and works, trying to become a successful artist, we get to watch him fall into despair; he starts smoking, drinking, and visits a washed up Strathmore graduate named Jimmy (Jim Broadbent) who gives him some dark and grotesquely sage advice: "Are you good at 'getting on your knees?'" (I've cleaned that up a bit, but you get the idea.) It becomes apparent to Jerome (and the movie watcher) that he has no chance of becoming a recognized artist ...unless something drastic happens. Which, of course, it does (Cliche? Oh yes!) Once this "something drastic" happens, Jerome learns the true nature of being an artist. It's an unfortunate and incredibly funny set of circumstances that finally thrusts Jerome into the limelight.

The level of casting in this indie film is surprisingly large and notable. In addition to John Malkovich (BEING JOHN MALKOVICH) we see Anjelica Huston (THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS), Jim Broadbent (MOULIN ROUGE!), Matt Keeslar (DUNE miniseries), Ethan Suplee (COLD MOUNTAIN), Steve Buscemi (THE BIG LEBOWSKI) and several others.

This impressive cast pulled off the overly-pretentious attitudes that flood many art schools. They were witty yet cynical which made laughing out loud a requirement during the viewing of this amazing little flick.

God I love these little independents when they're done right!

I sat there with my girlfriend who had gone to the Rhode Island School of Design and she said "Spot on!" She then told me a hilarious story of a project she had as a junior in film at RISD. She and a fellow student did a spoof about a company that did drapery cleaning . He father actually did have a company that cleaned draperies as well as mini blinds professional cleaning for businesses and residential clients, so she really knew the subject. And they are clearly the best drapery cleaning NYC service available. Instead of doing the obvious by making the cleaners incompetent and making a mess of everything. She filmed one of her father's cleaning team actually cleaning mini blinds. The twist in the film was the voice over who explained why everything that was being done was completely wrong. Then when the project was to be presented to the class and her professor, she got into RISD critique mode and spun a ridiculously obscure explanation about the film's concept...blah blah blah. And she received an A. Needless to say, she identified with what the film makers were doing."


This film impressed the hell out of me

8/10 Author: tomwaitsisgod from massachusetts, us

14 May 2006

I came into this film expecting a mean, rude comedy in the vein of Zwigoff's previous effort Bad Santa (a film which has more brains than it gets credit for). For the first 3/4 or so of the film, that's what I got, and I enjoyed every second. Towards the last bit, the film takes a turn darker than you would expect. This sudden twist, unexpected as it was, did not feel trite or convoluted. More fascinating.

Make no mistake this a dark comedy in the truest definition. There is something about the ending that is supremely haunting.

Ethan Suplee provides the hyper-actively aggressive role he has become beloved for. Malkovich does not disappoint as the burnt-out and oh-so-full-of-crap art professor. Jim Broadbent channels Chuck Bukowski here as he barks like a pit-bull and alternately purrs like a tabby as the disheveled failed artist/ nihilistic mentor of our boy Jerome, who just may be the only unpretentious and truly talented student at Strathmore University. Throw in Anjelica Huston and Steve Buscemi in delightfully understated roles, a string of murders courtesy of the mythical Strathmore Strangler, and the positively stunning Sophia Myles as the nude drawing class model Audrey who becomes both the object of Jerome's affection and the source of his disillusion, and you have got a dysfunctional masterpiece.


Great film- fun, exciting, fascinating, and keeps you pleasantly off balance.

9/10 Author: mothratwin89 from United States

15 May 2006

First off, let me just say how much I love Max Minghella. I saw Bee Season at a film festival a while back and straight off knew he was going to do fantastic things with his career. So far he's proved me right.

I have been anticipating Art School Confidential for a long time. I found out about it through the IMDb, and as a big fan of Zwigoff's previous work, I was really looking forward to seeing what he was going to do with the fabulous cast he had assembled (Malkovich, Huston, Buscemi, etc). The movie did not disappoint.

The beginning of the film is about what I expected- cute, off-beat story about a talented geek who goes to art school and pursues the girl of his dreams. And then it got dark. And then it got very dark. And then it got extremely dark. I soon realized I had no idea where it was going to take me next, and that excited me. The 'mystery' aspect of the movie is brilliantly done as well- it keeps you just well informed enough that you have about a 50/50 chance of figuring it out preemptively, and you'll always realize what's going on just when you need to.

I have read reviews that called Art School Confidential misanthropic, among other things. I disagree. It has misanthropic aspects, misanthropic characters, but overall I found that it ended on an expressly positive note. I absolutely loved the ending. Five minutes before it ended, I wasn't sure how it was going to end, and that, in my opinion, is the best way to do it. Zwigoff's direction is also very impressive. There's a distinct difference in the atmosphere throughout- it starts out looking and feeling sunnier and lighter, and as Minghella's character becomes darker, so does the look of the movie. Just one of those little things that adds to the overall experience.

Art School Confidential thoroughly covers ground that Ghost World touched on briefly- namely, the line between art and BS. It is clearly a subject on which Terry Zwigoff has a lot to say, and he says it very eloquently. The cast is great, the music is great, the direction is great. Go see it. And let me say again... I love Max Minghella. Here's hoping he doesn't turn to stupid teen flicks to pay the bills.


Exactly what you would expect from Zwigoff - which is also its weakness

8/10 Author: sashamalchik from San Francisco, U.S.A.

27 April 2006

Terry Zwigoff made one of my favorite movies - Ghost World. This one can be considered a sequel of sorts. Except, it's backwards: instead of commiserating with the young adult "misfits" in the world of "normal" people, it now laughs and satirizes them in a setting where their greatest concentration can be found - an art school in New York. In a farce-like setup it goes from student to student and ridicules them for all the "non-conformity" clichés that they are, while staying fully aware of being one big cliché itself - and landing the mandatory slaps on the "suburbia" and the "normal world" as well.

But this is where it fails: it lacks any subtlety. What was great about Ghost World, what was its main superiority over Art School Confidential, is that it had enough subtlety to stay an engaging, deep movie, while this comes off more like a flick-for-fun. It's as if Zwigoff decided to do exactly what's expected of him and serve it in a transparent glass box for people like me - who would enjoy the movie tremendously nonetheless, but regret everything it's so obviously missing. Oh - and unfortunately for me, I felt like much of the "art-school" topic has already been depicted very well very recently, in the HBO's Six Feet Under.


To everyone who thinks it turned dark...

8/10 Author: blart-2 from United States

14 May 2006

I think that those who felt the movie started as an excellent parody of art schools but then failed by turning dark, you've missed the point. By turning dark, you start to fear for the main character only to be confronted by the fact that the art world is so ridiculous, it will laud anyone for the most insane reasons. Jerome's art was considered boring until he wasn't. It's not that the movie turned had to go in that direction to reach the ultimate parody.

As someone who is regularly disappointed by what passes for art today, it was refreshing to see this confronted in such an open arena. It's a disappointment that people without skills have succeeded-- and that art is the only discipline where professors are afraid to give out poor grades. I certainly experienced this in my art days. Students who put in the effort and failed to complete the requirements would still receive a good grade because they'd put in the effort.

This film is fantastic because it goes to the extreme to comment on art today.