Monday, 16 July 2007
Factory Girl (2006) dir. George Hickenlooper
Starring: Sienna Miller, Guy Pearce, Hayden Christensen
There’s nothing remarkable about “Factory Girl”, and at the same time there’s nothing offputting about it. So is “Factory Girl” is a waste of time? No. It’s competently told, with decent performances ultimately telling the tragic story of an innocent girl destroyed by her own quest for fame. The story is remarkably relevant today in light of the talentless manufactured celebrities we are exposed to everyday in gossip mags and entertainment shows.
Edie Sedgewick’s talent wasn’t in art or business, it was magnetism. Sedgewick was the granddaughter of inventor of the elevator and who enjoyed a privileged youth. After dropping out of her private she abandons the privileged and protected life of an heiress in favour of the fast and furious world of the New York City art scene. Edie’s charismatic personality is infectious and she quickly befriends a young artist named Andy Worhol. Edie is brought into Worhol’s coterie of artists nicknamed “the Factory” where she becomes his muse in front of the camera in a series of avant-garde art films. Sedgewick becomes an official celeb when she’s spotted on his arm at various social functions, parties and premieres. But we all know the higher the climb the bigger the fall.
A rift develops with Worhol when she becomes involved with a folk singer named“Billy Quinn”, who is really a pseudonymed version of “Bob Dylan” as played by Hayden Christensen. Apparently Dylan denied ever having a relationship with Sedgewick and thus refused to lend his name to the film. Worhol’s jealousy of the relationship damages Sedgewick’s entire existence and the only way she can cope is with drugs. And so the downfall begins, the ending of which I won’t reveal, but it’s not unpredictable.
Hickenlooper and his writers portray Sedgewick as the innocent victim and Worhol as childlike mama’s boy who resents Sedgewick for changing cliques. The motivations of Worhol’s destruction of her career seems purely motivated by jealousy. Is it artistic jealously of Dylan’s talent? I’m not sure but to distill a great and complex artist down to high school antics is disappointing.
Sienna Miller is a great Sedgewick. She creates a distinct rhythm of speech – like a character within a character – when she’s playing the networking game. Despite the faults in character Guy Pearce is a good Worhol. Worhol’s been played very well in several films, and though I don’t think it quite stands up Jared Harris’ Andy in “I Shot Andy Worhol” Pearce definitely disappears into the role. I wonder though if, as depicted in this film, Worhol actually wore his sunglasses all the time even when he wasn’t being photographed? Probably not. I would have liked to have seen Pearce’s eyes some more in some of the meatier scenes of the film. The best of which being Worhol'sand director Chuck Wein's (Jimmy Fallon) psychological torture of Edie during the filming of one his movies.
I was also distracted by George Hickenlooper’s Oliver Stone-like techniques of multiple film stocks, grains and colorization. He’s obviously going for a psychedelic drug haze feel, but Stone did it better than anyone and so there’s no need to copy.
And so I have to sit on the fence again for “Factory Girl.” Rent it with caution.
Buy it here: Factory Girl