Cast: Sienna Miller, Guy Pearce, Hayden Christensen
Director: George Hickenlooper
Rated: R for pervasive drug use, strong sexual content, nudity and language.
Runtime: 87 min.
Release Company: The Weinstein Company
Andy Warhol, silver screen. Edie Sedgwick, poor little rich girl. Arty party girl Sedgwick met Warhol in 1965 and quickly became his bosom buddie and Factory regular, tagging along to the poshest New York happenings and gilding his films with her pretty face. Those unfamiliar with the guts of The Factory, Andy Warhol’s creative womb, will be treated as guests to some of the Partying-est decade’s wildest soirees. Factory Girl’s first half certainly feels like a party as we’re introduced to Warhol’s progeny. As Sedgwick becomes more involved in the NY scene, she stumbles into the arms of a character simply labeled ‘The Musician,’ who, if you’ve read any press for this film, you’ll know bears some uncanny (and unfortunately litigious) resemblances to Bob Dylan, skillfully mustered by Jedi Hayden Christensen. Representing the polar opposite to Warhol’s wispy nihilism, Christensen’s eyes literally water with the emotion of his generation, and every word is a promise. Warhol takes umbrage at Sedgwick’s role as an idealistic double agent, and begins to slight her and prove that shallow nihilists can be just as cruel as shallow activists. Sedgwick, lost and alone, finds solace in the big H and quickly degenerates into a completely classless poor little rich girl. Sedgwick narrates her story through highly unnecessary rehab-motivated flashbacks (a post-production addition), painting a pastel pallor over her turbid travails.
Director Hickenlooper (who really wow-ed us with Hearts of Darkness) fought controversy at every step of this year-long production, so it’s unfortunate that this labor-of-love yields such a mediocre product, ultimately poisoned by Captain Mauzner’s (Wonderland) same-old-drug-story narrative beats and superficial glimpses into hearts. Sienna Miller really proves herself as a capable actress, and Guy Pearce, certainly not Warhol’s dead ringer, convinces us as only consummate actors can. The film’s most entertaining scene comes from the ideological confrontation between Warhol and ‘The Musician,’ and creates a worthwhile juxtaposition for the audience to consider: which art is really worth our time? Pure emotion, or pure process? Sedgwick has the decision made for her, and really, so do we, getting a sappy lugubrious tear-jerker for spoiled little girls. Indeed, the film’s greatest injustice (and the danger for all directors who tread into recent history) is the way it’s virtually impossible to feel sympathy for Sedgwick – a girl who just wanted to party all the time, and when life’s responsibilities reared their fervent heads (namely, that one must work for a living), Sedgwick curls up in an H-ball. Any drug-story typically follows this formula: first half party, second half pain. And that’s Sedgwick’s story: degeneration and loss. It’s the child growing up and stubbornly avoiding the fact that the party has to end. It may be depressing, but does that fact alone make it tragic? – and more importantly, worth our time?
Written by David Ashley