Saturday, February 03, 2007

"Factory Girl"

"This is my b-boy stance!"

Last night, I witnessed the howling atrocity that is Factory Girl, the new Edie Sedgwick biopic from The Weinstein Company. The film stars Sienna Miller as Sedgwick and Guy Pearce as Andy Warhol, and tells the story of Sedgwick’s rise and fall at the hands of Warhol and his associates. Guy Pearce does a wonderful job, approaching the performance in a minimalist manner that crafts a real personality out of small gestures (a right hand that incessantly seeks to cover the face that Warhol was so unhappy with, a habit of mumbling that also effectively conveys the presence of some self-loathing). Pearce also gets to deliver the few truly wonderful lines in the script – an encounter between Andy Warhol and a priest at the film’s opening is really wonderful. You miss the absence of Pearce when he’s not on-screen. Ultimately, this one good performance cannot save the movie from two of the more unforgivable performances I have seen in years – those of Hayden Christensen and Sienna Miller in this film.

Some praise has been thrown at Sienna Miller for her portrayal of Sedgwick in this film, but those critics must have caught something that I missed. To my mind, she simply tosses out stereotypes (goody two-shoes farm girl in a knee-length plaid skirt, party girl, drug whore) and stands around looking vacant. For the movie’s first half hour, you feel sorry for Guy Pearce, for having to tow her bloated corpse of a performance ashore. Then, something truly, truly unfortunate happens. The Sith Lord arrives. Hayden Christensen’s portrayal of one of the most powerful personalities in the history of American culture is more a caricature than anything else. His puffed-up hair and nasal mumble are like someone at a party imitating Bob Dylan. Ask the next person you see to mock Bob Dylan, and what they will do is essentially what Mr. Christensen does for about 40 minutes of godawful celluloid waste. I would rather they had cast Jar Jar Binks as Bob Dylan, or perhaps Samuel L. Jackson. Though his painfully obvious limitations as an actor are largely to blame for this atrocity, it’s not solely Christensen’s fault. The script for this thing – written by someone named Captain Mauzer – is a compost heap of stereotypes and melodrama. Not Douglas Sirk melodrama, either. After-school special melodrama. Perhaps the most wincingly bad scene is a confrontation between Sedgwick and Dylan that takes place in the countryside and ends with the Bob Dylan character pushing a motorcycle into a pond and yelling “It’s not real! It’s not real!” I have to agree with Lou Reed, who famously called the script "one of the most disgusting, foul things I've seen—by any illiterate retard—in a long time." I love it! And I couldn’t agree more! To quote Eddie Murphy, I could have eaten a bowl of Alpha Bits and shat something better than this.

I have to apologize for the amount of joy I’m taking in immolating this film. But see it and you’ll understand.

Other points of contention: How can you make a 60’s film with a shitty soundtrack? HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE?! There were two songs from the Nuggets box set, but that’s about it. Also, the film completely lacks the atmosphere of New York. It’s as if the set designers thought “How can we make this place look like 60’s NYC? I have an idea, we’ll paste up two flyers for Allen Ginsberg poetry readings.” Aside from a couple of shots of Central Park, the film could be set in anytown, USA. And NYC in the 1960’s was about as far from Anytown as you could hope to get.


Blogger Alysia said...

The best part about that whole "motorcycle into the lake" thing is that it took place behind Leo's Dad's apartment. Leo, Ashley, and I went there last year to take pictures for her photography class.

I do agree with you about the movie, though. Personally, I've never enjoyed movies about people that fuck up their lives and never make them better, but it did feel like people playing dress-up.

2:28 PM  

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