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Jerome, a kid from the suburbs who loves to draw, goes to New York City's Strathmore College for his freshman year as a drawing major. Competition and petty jealousy consume faculty and students, with an end-of-first-semester best-student award held out as a grand plum. Worse, a strangler is on the loose, killing people on or next to campus. The idealistic Jerome falls in love with Audrey, a student who models for life-drawing classes and who responds to his sweetness. But he has a rival: the clean-cut, manly Jonah, also a first-year drawing student, whose primitive work draws raves and Audrey's attention. As cynicism seems to corrode everything, Jerome is desperate to win.Written by
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.
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