© Kinostar

Factory Girl
U.S.A. 2006

Opening 7 Aug 2008

Directed by: George Hickenlooper
Writing credits: Aaron Richard Golub, Captain Mauzner, Simon Monjack
Principal actors: Sienna Miller, Guy Pierce, Hayden Christiansen, Jimmy Fallon, Jack Huston

In 1962 artist Andy Warhol set up an atelier called The Factory in New York City where he and his friends could paint, film and socialize. He attracted a group of exotic people who created new art forms while living on the wild side of indiscriminate homo- and hetero-sex, drugs, alcohol and cigarettes. Edith (Edie) Minturn Sedgwick turned up around 1965, after attending art school. She became famous as Warhol’s muse, the “queen of underground cinema,” in his films such as Poor Little Rich Girl. She was the “first woman to bring sex appeal to American high society” with her trademark short blond hair, thick black eyelashes, and long dangling earrings. Not for nothing is there a comparison of photos of Edie and Marilyn Monroe. Edie and Andy spent hours on the phone together; she visited him at home, met his Slovakian mother, and parroted his favorite saying, “You’re the boss, applesauce.”

And then it was over, abandoned by false friends who moved on to the next thrill, when she became a drug-addicted nuisance. She was not prepared for life as a thinking, independent adult and allowed herself to be used by Warhol, who capitalized on her work, but never paid her. Her drug dependency soon depleted her trust fund; her health was ruined; her one true love (named Billy in the film but possibly referring to Bob Dylan) moved on to another. The film insinuates that her weakness was grounded in her unstable family life. She came from a prominent American family with roots back to the American Revolution and the signing of the U.S. Constitution. She grew up in California, one of nine children. Brother Minty committed suicide after coming out of the closet; brother Bobby died in a traffic accident on New Year’s Eve. Edie was in and out of Silver Hill psychiatric hospital in Connecticut, USA, and died young.

The film documents Edie Sedgwick’s life without pretending to be correct in every detail. Followers of Warhol and the roaring ‘60s might be able to differentiate fact from fiction; for example, was there really an incestuous relationship with her father Fuzzy? I doubt that her eldest brother Jonathan would have personally appeared for comments, if all had been untrue. Perhaps Warhol was more considerate than portrayed here. Sienna Miller as Edie and Guy Pearce as Warhol are excellent. Director George Hickenlooper’s film is valuable in that it looks at an interesting time in history and makes one curious to know more. (Becky Tan)

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