George Hickenlooper’s fascination with the beast of celebrity reaches a gossipmongering low with Factory Girl, a biographical account of the life of Warhol superstar Edie Sedgwick. Reshoots, lawsuits, and Bob Dylan’s fury forced The Weinstein Company to push the film’s release several times. This behind-the-scenes drama would make great documentary fodder (call it Hearts of Darkness: A Distributor’s Apocalypse)—certainly a more interesting prospect than having to sit through another one of these spectacles of bad accents, VH1 aesthetics, sketchy (almost nonexistent) period detail, and armchair psychology ever again. Hickenlooper directs as if he were crossing off bullet points from the most commonly-known biographical timeline of Sedgwick’s life, tritely recognizing the debutante as a fun-loving innocent whose fag-haggery was rooted in her relationship to a brother who, rejected by their ghoulish father because of his sexuality, hung himself in an insane asylum. This apparently is enough to explain why Sedgwick (Sienna Miller) was attracted to Warhol and his band of outsiders, who take her in and spit her out as soon as she becomes romantically linked with a musician (Hayden Christensen) meant to be a stand-in for the poet responsible for “Blowin’ In The Wind.” What’s novel about Factory Girl is Hickenlooper’s singular revulsion for Warhol as a human being. (Christensen’s Dylan refers to the artist as a bloodsucker in one scene, and it would appear from Guy Pearce’s performance and the makeup on his face that everyone involved with the film’s production is in agreement.) But Hickenlooper’s contempt for Warhol veers toward the homophobic, inviting our disgust every time his caricature of the pop artist obsesses over the size of someone’s cock. Worse is his idea of nuance, as in Mama Warhol (Beth Grant) opening a cupboard to reveal a treasure trove of Campbell’s soup cans—an in-joke that isn’t mmmm-mmmm-good because it’s just that: a joke that elucidates nothing about the causality of Warhol’s art. To Hickenlooper, the Factory may have been a dumb freak show, but his film is impossibly flip, and the greatness of films like Beauty #2, whose making-of is Factory Girl‘s only highlight, refutes his belief that all Factory art was without import.
- The Weinstein Company
- 91 min
- George Hickenlooper
- Captain Mauzner
- Sienna Miller, Guy Pearce, Hayden Christensen, Jimmy Fallon, Jack Huston, Armin Amiri, Tara Summers, Mena Suvari, Shawn Hatosy, Beth Grant, James Naughton, Edward Herrmann, Illeana Douglas, Meredith Ostrom
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