A film about a woman who inspired art cannot help but express a sense of artistry itself. Full of Andy Warhol-esque visuals, “Factory Girl” is saturated with colorful images and even more colorful people. Covering Edie Sedgewick’s life from art school to her 1970 exit from a California rehab center, the film paints a picture of an innocent girl who led an anything-but-innocent life.
In a film soaked with ’60s glamour, sex, drug abuse, rock’n’roll and betrayal, Sedgewick’s life has finally been given a voice. There were a handful of failed movie attempts in the ’80s, including Warren Beatty’s, which tried to cast Molly Ringwald as the blonde superstar.
Sienna Miller (“Casanova”) as Sedgewick captures the vitality and carefree demeanor of the 1960s socialite. With dead-on looks and childlike excitement, Miller and the real Sedgewick are nearly indistinguishable to the untrained eye.
Guy Pearce (“Memento”) is also a step above impersonation with his portrayal of Andy Warhol. The mannerisms and speech patterns are classic Warhol, while his behind-the-scenes candor is a skill surely adapted for the sake of the film. Warhol’s infamous two-word responses to any interview question would not have made for very good entertainment.
The film follows the chemistry between Sedgewick and Warhol from their meeting in the early 1960s to her death in 1971. Warhol is the crazed artist, and Sedgewick just wants to be loved – and to be famous. After leaving art school, Sedgewick moves to New York under the steam of her wealthy family. She meets up with Warhol and begins a spending spree that leaves her bankrupt and without her abusive father’s help. She learns the friends she made at Warhol’s Factory are as fleeting as her place in the public eye.
After Sedgewick meets a dark and handsome folk singer, she and Warhol have a falling out that leads the young blonde deeper into drug dependency.
The underlying plot in “Factory Girl” involving Sedgewick’s anything-but-ideal American family adds an element of discomfort and sympathy to the story. She mentions to a friend that she once had eight brothers and sisters and now only has six; the deaths of two siblings caused a wound for Sedgewick that never really healed.
The film has stirred quite a bit of controversy from those who were a part of Sedgewick’s life. A brief relationship with Bob Dylan translates into the Sedgewick character’s fling with Billy Quinn (Hayden Christensen, (“Star Wars Episode III”), a fictional hybrid of rocker Dylan and other influences in the young starlet’s life. Dylan’s lawyers have threatened to sue, claiming the film depicts the folk singer as instigating the downward spiral that lead to Sedgewick’s death.
Filmgoers should stay for the credits, where the director throws in some interviews and archival photographs and comments on the real Sedgewick. Although details of the film may have been altered, the prevailing sentiment of her life remains intact. She was simply a girl who met the cruel truth of the fickleness of fame.
At the Michigan Theater
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars