FACTORY GIRL features a stellar lead performance from Sienna Miller as moth-to-flame socialite/model/actress Edie Sedgwick, who sought, found and was used up by fame during the mid-60s, as muse to that bizarre entity called Andy Warhol. The non-Mayberry Andy is played, in another fine sculpting, by Guy Pearce. Apart from the acting prowess displayed, your interest in 90 minutes of depressing excess from self-absorbed artistes and provocateurs may depend on your level of appreciation or fascination for the whole Warhol thing and its miscut piece of an era’s puzzle. *
Written by Captain Mauzner in a way that mixes frank (the dialogue) with coy (the ‘disguised’ portrayal of Bob Dylan), over-directed by George Hickenlooper in a manner to suggest docu-realism by having cameraman Michael Grady (Bug, Easy A) ceaselessly jolt between color-saturated to grainy, from black & white to handheld to fuzziness and back. Lot’s of cool period songs bank the soundtrack.
An arresting Miller, 25, throws herself full-tilt into the skin of Sedgwick as she was from 1964 to 1969 (Edie 21 to 26), charting the publicity explosion and abuse deterioration of the Warhol Zone, in which she appeared in 18 of his avant-garde movies at the “Factory” of the title. Apart from caption coda at the finale, it leaves out yet more dispiriting material from her last years: she finally died of an overdose at 28, in 1971. An excellent makeup job assists Pearce in suggesting Warhol. As ‘Musician’ (aka Dylan), Hayden Christensen plays a weak catch-up game.
Budgeted at $7,000,000, the earnest effort flopped, with reviews that applauded Miller but dissed the movie, and a worldwide take coming to just $2,581,387. Some added kerfuffle and publicity ensued when a disgruntled Dylan tried to stop the release, threatening suit over its portrayal of him, which he saw as unflattering (no one comes out of this stew of posturing vanity looking rosy).
Assorted creeps, hangers-on and social sucks are well-played by Jimmy Fallon, Jack Huston, Mena Suvari, Tara Summers, Shawn Hatosy, James Naughton (Edie’s cruel father), Beth Grant, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Don Novello. Illeana Douglas has a sly bit as fashion fashioner Diana Vreeland, excited about “youthquaker” Edie until she went out of ‘Vogue’ and was replaced by Twiggy. Edward Herrmann has two brief scenes as her compassionate family attorney frustrated by her self-destructive behavior. The incessant cigarette smoking alone is enough to make you want to flee to the Andes.
* Another entitled Rich girl with a debased family background and a descent into drugs and degradation. Another tortured “artist”, whose “impact on culture” we’re supposed to be rocked by. I really like Sienna Miller, and Guy Pearce is always good, and certainly there is enough tragedy in Sedgwick’s upbringing to arouse pity, but I’m one uncool prole who’s never given the least of damn’s about Andy Warhol and that whole sick scene. Having seen too many decent people struggle valiantly to overcome dire poverty and blight, it’s too much to trick my empathy gene into gear over preening fashionistas and ethics-vacant vampires parading their disdain like it’s High Chic. Sienna’s a winner, though.