Back in the frame
Brat Pack queen ALLY SHEEDY spent ten years in the cinema wilderness. Now, in High Art, she’s back and better than ever. Words: Nigel Floyd
The late 90s Ally Sheedy has a leaner. hungrier look than the round-faced Brat Pack ingenue who rocketed to fame in the early 80s in two teen angst classics. 51 [17/110 3‘ Fire and The Breakﬂrst Club. Alter more than a decade of being filed under ‘Where Are They Now'.". the 36-year-old has made a remarkable comeback. winning plaudits and prizes for her performance as lesbian photographer Lucy Berliner in High Art. As in all of Sheedy's best work. it‘s a subtle. insinuating performance. her character‘s troubled inner life revealed through subtle inﬂections of the actress’s raspy voice or expressive movements of her slender hands.
Incredibly. High Art director Lisa Cholodenko had never seen Sheedy‘s teen movies. but cast her after an audition that benefited. like the final performance. from some uncanny parallels between fiction and real life.
In the film. Lucy is locked into a destructive relationship with her coke-snorting. heroin-injecting girlfriend Greta. Before Sheedy married fellow actor David Lansbury. the father of her five-year-old daughter, she admits she was ‘nearly destroyed’ by her relationship with the drug-abusing Richie
Sambora. guitarist with Bon Jovi. Greta’s behaviour
was therefore all too familiar. ‘l‘ve had relationships with people who are drug addicts and they don’t function unless they‘re high.‘ says'Sheedy.- ‘Then
22 THE lIST l—lSApr 1999
'They told me I needed bigger tits - that nobody wanted to fuck me and that was why I wasn't being cast in movies.’ Ally
Photo finish: Ally Sheedy in High Art
they suddenly become warm and amorous and happy3
Lucy explains her self-imposed. ten-year exile from the photography world by saying that there was no longer a line between herself and her work. Having experienced this blurring of self and image in her early 20s. Sheedy recognised the syndrome.
‘I always had a vision of the kind of actor I wanted to become — Katherine Hepburn or Judy Davis.‘ she says. ‘They‘ve managed to have long careers. but not in a mainstream. glamorous movie star kind of way. Their work has grown as they have grown. and they’ve managed to achieve their goals by a more circuitous route.‘
Unfortunately. Sheedy’s ambitions did not square with the more limited vision imposed by the studios and producers with whom she was working: ‘They told me I needed bigger tits — that nobody wanted to fuck me and that was why I wasn‘t being cast in movies.‘
As the daughter of radical left-wing activists who had taught her very different
values. Sheedy reacted strongly to such sexist
stereotyping. but the conflict between their crass expectations and her fragile sense of self still took its toll.
‘When you have that kind of success in your 20s.~ explains Sheedy. ‘there’s a tremendous pressure to turn yourself into The Movie Star Of The Moment. lt all has to do with selling your image. what you look like. It went against everything that l‘d ever been taught. ljust couldn’t do it. I think that. at that point. the line between myself and the work had gotten very blurred.
‘What they wanted was for me to turn myself into whatever would be the most desirable or marketable kind of person for my own career. But I just couldn't cross that line. so I didn’t. I know I made things very hard for myself. but I'm really glad that I chose to do things the way that I did.‘
Glasgow Film Theatre and Edinburgh Filmhouse from Fri 9 Apr. See review.
Lights, camera, action . . .
THREE TARTAN SHORTS projects have been chosen from 170 entries for the 1999 scheme, backed as ever by BBC Scotland and Scottish Screen. All three films are expected to be unveiled at the Edinburgh International Film Festival in August.
Poached stars Iain Robertson (Small Faces) as a young salmon poacher in the Borders. Written and directed by Justin Molotnikov and produced by Mark Grindle, it also stars My Name Is Joe's Louise Goodall. Ed McCardie, Brian Kirk and Gaynor Holmes are the writer- director-producer team behind Billy And Zorba, which stars James Cosmo as an eccentric fisherman who thinks he’s Zorba the Greek. Finally, Marcie’s Dowry is a black comedy set in the Glasgow underworld. Written by Bill Chamberlain, it will be produced by Glynis Robertson and directed by David Mackenzie.
WINNER OF THE Grand Jury Prize at Sundance and the Camera D'Or at Cannes, Slam has a free preview screening at Edinburgh Filmhouse on Sat 3 Apr at 11am. The film, featuring a stunning performance by Saul Williams as a rapper-poet arrested on a petty drugs charge, opens at the Glasgow Film Theatre on Fri 30 Apr and the Filmhouse on Fri 7 May. Call 0131 228 6382 for preview tickets (maximum two per person).
FIVE EXCEPTION SHORT films made in Scotland will screen at Edinburgh’s Cameo Cinema on Sun 4 Apr at 1pm. Duck, Wee Three, Gasman and Pan—Fried are joined by 809 Standard, which was made by twelve trainees from Edinburgh’s Film and Video Access Centre under the guidance of director Morag McKinnon, cinematographer Enrico Harvey and Orphans producer Frances Higson. The Cameo recently announced its own Jim Poole Short Film Award; shorts made in Scotland in 1999 should be submitted before the end of the year.
Lynn Ramsay's Gasman screens at the Cameo