Factory Girl

2006, Movie, R, 90 mins


George Hickenlooper and screenwriter Captain Mauzner's shallow gloss on the rise and fall of Edie Sedgwick, glittering "It Girl" of Andy Warhol's 1960s crowd, fails to convey any real sense of time, place or — most damagingly — Sedgwick's appeal.

Santa Barbara, 1970: Calm and reflective, Edie Sedgwick (Sienna Miller) lays bare the details of her wild ride on the Counterculture Express to a therapist, just as she once confessed her innermost secrets on film for pop artist Andy Warhol (Guy Pearce).

1964: Sedgwick, the deeply troubled daughter of a wealthy family, flees to New York in hopes of escaping her past, which includes incest, the suicides of two siblings, anorexia, and mental breakdowns that have fostered a dependence on prescription drugs. Driven by Holly Golightly dreams, she abandons a bland-but-stable boyfriend (Shawn Hatosy) and puts herself in the manipulative hands of fellow trust-fund baby Chuck Wein (Jimmy Fallon). Sedgwick and Warhol meet in 1965 and immediately become inseparable; he features her in a series of self-consciously artless films, squires her around town and praises her to the press, which hang on his every provocation. She plays adoring foil to his hollow-man persona while adding blue-blood luster to the Factory — the Manhattan loft where Warhol works while presiding over an entourage of 24-hour party people who indulge their most outrageous caprices in the name of anti-establishment art. Sedgwick persuades her parents' rich friends to buy his work, dyes her dark hair silver to match Warhol's, and refashions herself into an emaciated wraith in short tops, revealing miniskirts, sheer black tights, enormous earrings, and wide eyes fringed by lush false lashes. Vogue magazine anoints her a "Youthquaker," she becomes a style icon, a ubiquitous scene-maker and Warhol's first Superstar — she's famous for being famous, the ultimate expression of his worship of surface over substance. Sedgwick also drinks, uses ever-harder drugs and runs through her trust fund, forcing her to scavenge for cash. Her affair with a brooding rock star (Hayden Christensen), coyly billed as "Musician" but clearly modeled on Bob Dylan, creates a rift with Warhol that in turn sends her into a brutal downward spiral.

Despite, or perhaps because of, a flurry of 11th-hour recutting and reshoots — including the framing interview, which replaced a series of talking-head recollections by Sedgwick's surviving friends and family in the style of the "witnesses" interspersed throughout Warren Beatty's 1981 REDS — the film feels rushed and unfocused. Pearce brings a cold intelligence to his portrayal of Warhol, and Miller gives a go-for-broke performance as the increasingly desperate and undone Sedgwick. But she lacks the fragile charisma evident in even the coarsest Warhol films, and without it there's no reason to care about the self-destructive celebutante's short, unhappy life. leave a comment --Maitland McDonagh

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The Factory Girl and the Seamstress: Imagining Gender and Class in Nineteenth Century American Fiction (Studies in American Popular History and...
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