It’s no easy task to empathize with a person who came from a great deal of money, squandered it, and refused to get a “real job,” as it were. Overcoming drug addiction is another thing entirely, but still, Edie Sedgwick was as much the decider of her own fate as Andy Warhol was a foot fetishist. It’s hard to blame anyone else for her downfall, which is what Factory Girl seems to be trying to do.
Rather than showing a new generation why Edie deserves a biopic (that is, aside from the fact she was beautiful) or giving us much of anything to sympathize with (her easily gained trust, her generosity to a fault) Factory Girl instead offers the cheap shock value of suggested incest and deliberates over which sacrificial lamb to skewer. One could come out of Factory Girl loathing Andy Warhol for not paying the poor girl for starring in his films (and not to undercut them, but this wasn’t always too taxing a chore), or despising the unnamed folk musician (clearly modeled after Bob Dylan) for loving and then leaving her. Everyone can agree on hating her lecherous father.
But while there’s no doubt the lady experienced some hard knocks, there’s also no reason to vilify every person around her during her time at the Factory. It was years later that she overdosed, but the pacing of the film makes it seem a direct effect of her falling-out with Andy and some Bob-like amalgamation. Better would have been a movie that focused on what drew people to her; better, perhaps, just to watch one of Warhol’s films starring Sedgwick.
Warhol is only portrayed fairly in Girl if its viewers have a kind of intimate knowledge of him before watching, not only because without it folks may or may not be shocked by his visage and his character, but also because without some background, there’s really no way to feel for Warhol at all.
It has been suggested that Guy Pearce is far prettier than the actual Warhol (then again, so was David Bowie), and while that may be true, he melts into the character, and after a while he’s no longer the actor known and revered for Memento, Ravenous, and The Proposition.
Sienna Miller isn’t bad either, vapid and cheery to drunk, stoned, and angry; she outdid my expectations. Christensen is miscast and hardly has enough screen time to warrant his presence at all. That, added to his horrendous (erroneous, even) summary of Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s earns the character banishment from the screen in this writer’s opinion.
Girl is, for all its fine performances, mainly a series of (and I quote my high-school biology teacher here, flashing slides of single-celled organisms) pretty pictures. The gorgeous images hardly possess any kind of continuity, and the same can be said of the screenplay — although, across the board, that is a very difficult thing to achieve in a biopic. A book is preferable in this instance, and certainly fairer to Edie and Andy.