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2 reviews, 6 user ratings

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Factory Girl
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by Peter Sobczynski

"Factory Reject"
1 stars

Many films get nominated for Academy Awards each year but there are far more that don’t. Of course, many of these are films that never had any realistic shot of scoring a slot in any category–I sincerely doubt that the creators of “School for Scandal” or “Jackass 2" woke up early to see if they got any nods–but quite a few of those overlooked are ones that were clearly launched into production with at least some hopes of scoring Oscar gold. When they fail to pull this off, the studios, having already spent large amounts of money on fruitless award campaigning, tend to write off their losses by dumping those titles in late February in the hopes of making some quick bucks while satisfying contractual obligations before consigning them to DVD. However, few of these have ever reached the epic levels of badness achieved by “Factory Girl,” the Edie Sedgwick biopic that arrives on a wave of gossip surrounding last-minute reshoots (as in late November), multiple versions being screened to different groups and rumors of other behind-the-scenes turmoil–all of which turns out to be far more interesting that the dud of a film they have inspired.

Sedgwick, for those of you who don’t recall, was the prototypical good girl of classy breeding who became notorious when she fell in with Andy Warhol and his crowd as they were revolutionizing the art scene in the 1960's with soup cans and Brillo pads. Through her connection with him, she became a constant source of good copy for gossip mavens, a fashion inspiration for young girls and the lover of no less a figure than Bob Dylan. Eventually, she would fall out with both Warhol and Dylan and that, combined with some deep-seated psychological problems and a nasty drug habit would lead to her premature death in 1971 at the age of 28, only to be revived as an icon of the times a few years later thanks to the oral biography penned by George Plimpton.

I knew all of this walking into “Factory Girl” and that is a good thing because the film is so formless and shapeless that anyone walking in cold is liable to throw in the towel after a few minutes. Even if you didn’t know about the film’s various post-production troubles going in, it is likely that you would sense that vibe from the jumbled and incoherent mess that splatters across the screen with all the grace of a bird hitting a window pane and with similar results. (I defy any of you to explain to me exactly what in the hell Shawn Hatosy and Jimmy Fallon are supposed to be doing here.) There are flashbacks within flashbacks, characters who appear and disappear at random and tons of narration thrown in to explain what is going on and to underline the various points that director George Hickenlooper was unable to pull off any other way. (“We were experiencing life on our own terms!”) At no point, however, do we ever get any sense as to what it was about Sedgwick that would make Hickenlooper want to bring it to the screen–aside from the bold-face names, there is nothing here that you haven’t seen done better in a dozen other cautionary tales about the dangers of drugs, booze and conceptual art.

The only fun to be had in “Factory Girl” comes from watching well-known actors making fools of themselves while playing personalities far more famous and compelling that they are. As Warhol, Guy Pearce demonstrates little of the off-beat aloofness that earlier impersonators such as Jared Harris (“I Shot Andy Warhol”) or Crispin Glover (“The Doors”) managed to convey–he just seems like a guy who has been hectored into a Halloween costume that he is very uncomfortable with. However, he comes off as perfectly cast next to the sight of Hayden Christensen essaying the role of Bob Dylan–actually, the credits refer to him as “Musician” while there is an on-screen reference to him being named “Tom Quinn,” both presumably in an effort not to get sued. I realize that this is the portion of the review where I am supposed to rag on Christensen’s acting ability based on his unimpressive work as Anakin Skywalker but I am not going to follow that particular line–that material was weak enough to challenge even the most gifted performers (as Natalie Portman demonstrated) and because he was really quite good in the underrated “Shattered Glass.” That said, he is pretty awful here because he doesn’t demonstrate even a fraction of the aura that Dylan had about him at the time–all he gives is the kind of limp attempt at an imitation that is rarely heard outside of a junior-high choir doing a rendition of “We Are the World.” (I may see many terrible scenes at the movies this year but I can’t imagine that too many of them will have the sheer ineptitude of the sight of Hayden Christensen imitating Bob Dylan offering an analysis of “Breakfast at Tiffanys.”

The only aspect of “Factory Girl” that even comes close to working is the central performance by Sienna Miller as Edie Sedgwick. It isn’t necessarily a career-defining performance–even if this year’s Best Actress category hadn’t been so overloaded with worthy performances, she still would have been a long shot for one of the final slots–but it is one that shows an ability to do more than simply look fabulous in (and out) of an array of sexy outfits. As you watch her throughout the film, it is evident that she put a lot of energy and effort into nailing the character down. Sadly, the rest of the film is such a mess in every way, shape and form that you may find yourself wondering why she even bothered.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=15438&reviewer=389
originally posted: 02/09/07 02:11:06
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User Comments

5/13/09 Colin M Sienna Miller is surprisingly good. Hayden Christensen is predictably bad. 3 stars
10/18/08 mr.mike Watchable , though inferior to "I Shot Warhol". 4 stars
11/25/07 Ionicera Hayden Christensen needs to be banned from acting 2 stars
8/04/07 Charles Tatum Miller channels Liza Minnelli in shallow biopic 3 stars
2/20/07 Sully At best on after school movie for the junkie set. (& who is Andy Warhol these days?) 2 stars
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  29-Dec-2006 (R)
  DVD: 17-Jul-2007



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