Factory Girl, the so-called controversial film about "It" girl Edie Sedgwick, muse of Andy Warhol, comes to DVD this week, but if you're looking for something edgy, interesting or actually controversial, look somewhere else. Starring Sienna Miller, Hayden Christensen and Guy Pearce as Mr. Warhol, Factory Girl is a disappointing and dull drama from director George Hickenlooper.
The movie follows the rise and fall of Edie Sedgwick, who apparently became famous through the help of several very strange Andy Warhol films. Warhol takes her under his wing as his muse, but as drugs get the better of her, the pop artist distances himself from her, replaces her with someone fresh and doesn't give her money for her efforts. She's become famous, but she hasn't become successful in the process. The controversy surrounding the film comes from the portrayal of Warhol, which perhaps portrays the man as being more responsible for Sedgwick's downfall than has previously been offered. Having not grown up in that era, I don't know, nor do I really care.
Basically, the character of Edie Sedgwick isn't very interesting. I had never heard of her before, and through this movie I still don't understand how she became famous. Of course, people can get famous for strange things, beauty and nothing else being one of them, but the movie seems to assume that we know and care about these characters ahead of time. Miller turns in a decent performance, but due to a variety of circumstances, she never really gets to show her capabilities or deliver an intriguing tale of a woman's downfall into drugs and poverty.
The biggest problem with Factory Girl is that it is more a snapshot of a person's life rather than a drama meant to engage the audience. Miller never gets to develop much as a character, as the story is unwilling to dive into the dark and gritty essence of her character. Near the end, she has a few scenes that could have been explosive, but the movie glazes over much of the interesting stuff. Basically, for a movie with a character who never really did much with her life, Hickenlooper shied away from focusing on his characters. You can make an interesting character drama out of any person, but you have to be willing to explore the character and not just skim over the surface. Factory Girl simply doesn't do this.
That being said, Guy Pearce and Hayden Christensen turn in great performances. Pearce is especially good as Mr. Warhol, even though his character is really never developed. Again, I didn't grow up during the era, but Andy Warhol looks like one weird and creepy dude. You can hardly recognize Pearce in the role. As for Christensen, he continues to prove that when not involved with Star Wars, he can be extremely effective.
Despite some good performances, Factory Girl is a movie about a person who really didn't do much with herself, other than overdose on drugs. It could have been a great movie had the director relied less on the history of Edie Sedgwick and more on what her character was about, but he just doesn't do it. The result is an un-sexy and hardly captivating film, just about the opposite as what is advertised on the DVD cover.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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