FIRST REVIEW OF FACTORY GIRL
The first review of Factory Girl, based on a screening of a rough cut in New York, has appeared on the Internet Movie Database website. It is reprinted here in its entirety, followed by a response by the director, George Hickenlooper. The film is now due for release in December 2006.
Edie Sedgwick (Sienna Miller, Casanova) was a free-spirited heiress from an up-tight old money Connecticut family, who became obsessed with the wild New York art scene of Andy Warhol's Factory. Andy (Guy Pearce, The Proposition) and Edie meet at one of his gallery openings and for more than a year they are inseparable. Andy wants to make Edie into a superstar, and she mainly just wants to escape her suffocating family. At first Edie is content just to sit back and watch all the fabulousness in motion at the Factory, but she soon becomes the centrepiece of Andy's decidedly avant garde films.
Edie is introduced by an old boyfriend to Billy Quinn (Hayden Christiansen, Shattered Glass), a folk singer based on Bob Dylan. She falls hard for him, and he likes her, but he is married and can't return her affection. Billy's rejection and Andy's subsequent snubbing leads Edie to fall in with Richie Berlin (Mena Suvari, American Beauty) who gets her hooked on drugs and she eventually spirals out of control.
Many have bemoaned Sienna Miller as nothing but a cheap strumpet who was taking advantage of having a famous boyfriend. With the combination of Casanova and Factory Girl, she is proving herself to be quite a capable actress. She certainly has a magnetic screen presence and she shows some range portraying both Edie's fantastic highs and troubling lows. However, she not quite accomplished enough yet to be able to overcome some of the script's shortcomings. There may also be some people who wont like Sienna's performance because the accent she adopts was at first startling and to some it may be off-putting. After my initial shock, I came to like it. Not unlike Cate Blanchett's Katharine Hepburn in The Aviator, Sienna uses the voice as a shield to keep people from getting close to Edie and then when she drops her guard and becomes vulnerable her voice softens.
Guy Pearce has a lot of fun as Andy Warhol. He does a great impression of Warhol's famous indifference and flippancy. Hayden Christansen is also quite good as the Dylanesque singer. The large cast also includes Jimmy Fallon as Edie's business manager Chuck; Shawn Hatosy as her ex-boyfriend Syd Pepperman; Illena Douglas as Diana Vreeland; a wonderful Edward Herrmann as Edie's trusted accountant; Beth Grant as Julia Warhola; Mary Kate Olsen as one of Andy's hangers on; and Sally Kirkland as Edie's grandmother. As a whole this large ensemble fares much better Bobby, that other 60's ensemble piece.
George Hickenlooper has an imaginative visual style, employing many different 60s era techniques like split screen and stock footage to give the film a retro-chic feel. His pacing is strong at the beginning and end, but the film sags a bit in the middle.
The period costumes and art direction were beautiful without being too over the top. I can't really comment on the cinematography as it was a very rough work print and some of it hadn't been colour corrected yet.
My main problems with the film stem from Captain Mauzner (who also wrote Val Kilmer's Wonderland). Mauzner never really explores more than superficially Edie's wounded psyche and the reasons why she is self destructive. Tthe script is like a skipping stone on a pond. It touches on a lot of different exciting moments, but never goes beyond standard biopic fare to really delve deep into who Edie really was.
George Hickenlooper responds:
I sincerely appreciate your candid remarks regarding my film FACTORY GIRL. They were thoughtful and straightforward. All I ask is that people be fair and realize that this was the first test screening of many. This film is still very raw and still very much a work in progress. All of us involved with FACTORY GIRL are doing this project as a labor of love. This was a film that was extremely hard to finance, yet we wanted to do it because we all believe Edie's story is a beautiful but sad tragedy and a story that needs to be told. The rough cut that was screened in New York was a first cut and subject to significant changes. Also, please keep in mind that there are still two scenes that need to be shot and we have been waiting to do so when Sienna's schedule frees up. We did not shoot these scenes earlier because the entire film was shot in Louisiana for budgetary reasons. We have two major scenes we want to do in New York and plan to do so. One purpose of these test screenings is to see what we may need in the additional reshoot. This is standard for any movie that is in post production. Thank you again for your candid remarks, all I ask is that people wait to judge the film when it is finally complete. We hope to be out in December. Thank you for listening and thank you for your interest. I have never been involved in a more complex and rich production. Sincerely, George HIckenlooper.