February 22, 2007

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Factory Girl (R)
Sienna Miller gives a full-body, no-holds-barred performance in Factory Girl, a sort of pointless movie.

Pointless because Miller is Edie Sedgwick, a woman about whom I knew nothing before seeing the movie and have no interest in further getting to know since seeing it. She was a daughter of old money and old names (a Declaration of Independence signer, a New Amsterdam founder and Kyra Sedgwick are among her distant relatives, according to her Wikipedia page) and, so the movie suggests, a seriously screwed up nuclear family. She had a fleeting modeling career and a vague and primarily “underground” film career. She was an “artist” of some kind and a frequent psychiatric patient. She was, also according to the movie, occasionally effervescing, deeply damaged and annoying.

This based-on story — elements are true-ish and, compared to the “facts” of her life one can dredge up on the Web, timelines are blurred — follows Edie (Miller) from her socialite life in New York to her drug- and pop-art-addled days with Andy Warhol (Guy Pearce) and his Factory crowd to her romance with a musician called Billy Quinn (Hayden Christensen) on Internet Movie Database. He is perhaps called this because calling him “Bob Dylan,” the man his character is likely based on, would be a fatal stretch of moviegoers’ tolerance. Nobody’s going to believe Anakin Skywalker can sing “Blowin’ in the Wind.”

The story takes Edie from one tragic episode in her tragic life to another, each one giving us a 1960s version of New York’s avant garde art scene that is visually interesting but aggravating to have to listen to. There is a more-education-than-sense, more-superstardom-than-talent feel to the characters, Warhol in particular, that is probably not fair and that makes for a fairly uninteresting storytelling experience.

I walked away from Factory Girl with a newfound respect for Miller (best known for an assortment of roles as girlfriends and other tertiary characters and for her appearances in the tabloids next to Jude Law’s name — she was engaged to but never married Law, who cheated on her; yes, that’s where you’ve heard her name). She can clearly carry the load of a weighty and complicated role. Let’s hope next time she gets one that matters. C-

Rated R for pervasive drug use, strong sexual content, nudity and language. Directed by George Hickenlooper and written by Aaron Richard Golub, Captain Mauzner and Simon Mojack, Factory Girl is one hour and 27 minutes long and is distributed in limited release by The Weinstein Company. The movie is currently playing at theaters in Manchester and Concord.