8/31/2007

Factory Girl

Director: George Hickenlooper

To use Andy Warhol’s idea that everyone will have fifteen minutes of fame, I guess the release of Factory Girl marks the time for Edie Sedgwick’s fifteen minutes, although there’s no doubt that the Weinstein Company who produced the film was hoping for this one to be the work that launched actress Sienna Miller into the Oscar race with her memorable turn that will stay in the audience’s minds long after the final credits have rolled. Miller (Casanova) is wonderfully complex in her role—vulnerable yet fiercely dynamic in her portrayal of Warhol’s famous aspiring artist and It Girl who left her world of wealth and privilege in the 60’s to go to New York and echoing her favorite film heroine Holly Golightly, manages to fall in with a crowd that may be using her more than she’s using them, namely Warhol’s scene including his famous factory where he put Sedgwick in his experimental films and proclaimed her a “superstar.” However, the fast lifestyle and readily available drugs take their toll, causing the young beauty to lose her grip on reality and the film is structured with flashbacks from her 1970 Santa Barbara therapy sessions where she’s finally able to recall the earlier days, before her untimely death by drugs far too young. The DVD version of the film includes some powerful screen test footage of Miller (who was actually cast twice, only cemented in the role after her infamous relationship with Jude Law made Miller a paparazzi favorite) that will astound students of not only acting but film in general and it’s a pity that some of the scenes being read were left on the cutting room floor because they aid in our understanding of Edie’s character, back story and motivation. The film captures the sixties atmosphere very well and while an almost unrecognizable Guy Pearce (Memento, L.A. Confidential) is a bit too striking to play the homely Andy Warhol, he’s very good alongside Hayden Christensen (Shattered Glass and the new Star Wars films) who tries his best to make a one-dimensional role, seemingly inspired by Bob Dylan seem more realistic. Featuring fine turns from costars Jimmy Fallon (in a serious role), Mena Suvari, Edward Herrmann and Illeana Douglas, one still can’t help wondering what is true as it is pretty subjective and one sided. New York Times critic Stephen Holden summed it up as a “simplistic tug of war… for possession of Edie’s soul… Mr. Dylan is the God of authenticity and inner truth and Warhol the Devil of superficiality and glitter.” It will definitely attract lovers of great acting and it is fun for Warhol fans to see as maybe one in a marathon of biopics featuring the pop culture icon. However, in a way, it feels like a night at the factory—a lot of pomp and circumstance, hippie love, great music, with the over-abundance of drugs and strangely pretentious art and film projects occurring in the background—the kind of party where everyone’s invited, yet no one fits in, and one without a host in neither Warhol nor director Hickenlooper whose ambitious film turns into a circus a few more times than one would like.