FACTORY GIRL (2006)
Starring Sienna Miller, Hayden Christiansen, Guy Pearce, Jimmy Fallon, Mena Suvari, Shawn Hatosy, Meredith Ostrom, Jack Huston, Tara Summers, James Naughton, Illeana Douglas, Don Novello, Colleen Camp and Edward Herrmann.
Written by Captain Mauzner.
Directed by George Hickenlooper.
Distributed by The Weinstein Company. 87 minutes. Rated R.
I guess it is questionable whether or not Edie Sedgwick is a historical figure deserving of a bio-pic, but undeniably she did lead an interesting, tragic life. Still, there is the nagging question: are beauty, cool friends, a brief flirtation with outré stardom, sensational news stories, drugs and a premature death enough to hang a film on?
From the evidence of Factory Girl, apparently it is. And this is not just because of the subject, but it is mostly due to the astonishing work of the film’s star. Sienna Miller, who is no stranger to the gossip pages herself, continues to show herself off as a way-underrated actress playing the arc of this doomed soul; from the fresh promise of art school in England to the drug-addled desperation of the Chelsea Hotel.
Sedgwick – for those of you who don’t know – was a beautiful, rich art student who moved to New York in the wild 60s craving fame and fun. She met pop artist Andy Warhol at his infamous Factory. The painter, intrigued by her beauty and her life force, started to use her in his experimental films, making Sedgwick an alternative icon (before the concept of alternative really even existed.)
The films were poorly made, mostly ad libbed, purposely amateurish, but Sedgwick had the “it” quality that made her the talk of New York’s intelligencia and cool party people – at least briefly.
Meanwhile, the film takes a look into the Factory, with all its day-glo decadence and vaguely pretentious artsiness. Its pale figurehead is Warhol, played in a surprisingly spooky impersonation by Guy Pearce or LA Confidential and Memento – a total stretch for this adventurous actor. Warhol had a complex relationship with Sedgwick. He was homosexual and yet he found her enrapturing. She was his confidant and yet he never really listened to her problems. He loved her and yet he was totally using her.
Into her life comes an enigmatic folk singer (Hayden Christiansen) named Billy, though he could not have been more obviously based on Bob Dylan if he wore a t-shirt reading Bobby Z. (Dylan, apparently, was not too thrilled with the idea of being portrayed in this film, leading to this terribly transparent cover-up.) However, despite the fact that he is supposed to be seen as Edie’s possible salvation, “Billy” is a bit of a snobbish, temperamental, argumentative, full-of-himself jackass. (Come to think of it, some people have used the same description of Mr. Tambourine Man himself, particularly during that era of his career.)
Eventually she falls out of favor with Warhol and his crowd (she had the nerve to ask to be paid for her work.). Of course, in that status mad group, she was no longer the flavor of the month, so it’s likely it would have only been a matter of time.
The arch films turned her from a sensation to a joke in what seemed a millisecond, while her growing drug dependency and inability to work left her spiraling out of control.
It’s a familiar story, even though it is true. Beautiful girl goes to the big city, lusting for the big time, falls in with a bad crowd, gets a taste of stardom and then gets it snatched away from her as the city spits her out. Still, you have to give it to Factory Girl, just like Sedgwick, it wears its tattered clothes with inimitable style.
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2007 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: July 20, 2007.