This was a curious film. It was intriguing in the way it put a focus on the pretentiousness of the art world, yet I felt strangely detached from any of the characters. Perhaps that was intentional — in order to highlight the "members only" atmosphere, they had to put the lead character on the outside striving to get in.
The story focuses on Jerome Platz (Max Minghella), a wanna-be great artist who follows his dream by enrolling at Strathmore Academy, an arts college where he takes a major in drawing and painting. Max is soon faced with many problems that any college freshman will encounter — strange roommates, a plethora of attractive women (including the one that is unattainable), professors and their assignments, not to mention just trying to find your way.
Max has his sights set very high; he aspires to nothing short of becoming the greatest artist of the 21st century. A lofty goal to be sure, and one that can't really be an aspiration. Max seems to think that greatness can be learned, but over the course of the film, he learns that it is more a case of being in the right place at the right time and knowing the right people.
He goes to class, tries to avoid his creepy classmates, and seeks to find his voice. However, his teacher, Professor Sandiford (John Malkovich), seems to be more interested in possibly furthering his own stalled career, and is not terribly good at doling out advice. Max struggles to find his way, searching for his voice by emulating others. Soon, he attracts the attention of his romantic aspirations, although he is outclassed at every turn. At the same time, he finds a way of garnering attention, possibly finding his big break on the journey to art world stardom.
In his relationship with the model of his dreams, Audrey (the gorgeous Sophia Myles), he meets her gallery owner father, and other art figures who may be able to afford him his big break. Of course, he has to get through the class first. His plans for getting through the class brings us to the film's subplot.