Pin-ups, bondage and Gretchen Mol, oh my. Mol stars as The Notorious Bettie Page, a popular 1950's sex doll who gained quite a following while also becoming a target of a Senate hearing.
The Notorious Bettie Page is one of those films about a real person you've never heard of, and a film that you really need to see even if there's nothing bad about it. Despite its subject matter, which seems tame in comparison to things nowadays, the movie struggles to capture your attention. After all, the movie is about a naive woman who doesn't see why anyone would have a problem with the photos she allows to be taken of her, who then becomes famous in an underground kind of way and eventually pushes the limits to where the United States Senate becomes involved. Despite all that, there is really quite little to see on screen.
The highlight of the film is when Mol gets naked, and overall she delivers a pretty good if subdued performance. Having watched the movie two weeks ago I already remember very little about this movie. You think boobs and bondage would capture the attention, but they didn't. And the Senate hearing... that is completely overlooked in the movie, as director Mary Harron apparently saw something more interesting in the story than the audience will.
The Notorious Bettie Page has its moments and is surprisingly harmless, but lacks any real motivating factor to make someone see this movie. A lot can be done with any character, and this character has quite a bit to offer to a theatrical narrative - but Harron fails to deliver.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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