Factory Girl (2006)

While their value as works of art may be a matter of taste, as pieces of cinema the films from Andy Warhol’s Factory are virtually unwatchable. Though this biopic of Edie Sedgwick emulates the look of Warhol’s films in some of the flashback sequences, superb performances by Sienna Miller and Guy Pearce make Factory Girl eminently more enjoyable than anything Warhol directed.

 

The film’s opening minutes immediately set the stage. Edie’s narration (later revealed to be from a session with a psychiatrist) advises the viewer that she comes from money and believes she’ll die before her 30th birthday.  A few flashback scenes establish her interest in Andy Warhol, so when the two meet at a party they each see how this can be a friendship with benefits; Edie has stars in her eyes while Andy sees dollar signs. Yet Edie’s blossoming romance with a famous folk-singer causes a rift that ultimately leads to her unravelling.

 

Though the famous folk-singer is obviously inspired by Bob Dylan, the threat of a legal suit led the filmmakers to change the character’s name and insist he was a composite character. No such difficulty with Andy Warhol. Though depicted primarily as a manipulative money-grabber, Guy Pearce’s performance provides many shades to the pale artist.

 

Likewise, Sienna Miller is a revelation as the tragic Edie. Prior to this film, the actress’s regular appearance in the tabloids put her in danger of being famous for merely being famous. But as Edie’s mother quite rightly asks – “Where is the value in that?”

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Though the character of Billy Quinn looks and sounds like Bob Dylan, he is supposedly a composite character of Dylan, Jim Morrison and Mick Jagger. This wasn’t enough for Dylan’s lawyers, who demanded to see the movie before it was released. In a letter to the film’s producers that stated –

 

“You appear to be labouring under the misunderstanding that merely changing the

name of a character or making him a purported fictional composite character

will immunize you from suit. That is not so.”

 

For his part, Dylan has constantly denied that he and Sedgwick were ever in a relationship. However it is undisputed that Edie was involved in a relationship with Dylan's friend, Bob Neuwirth.

Photo of Dylan's 1965 visit to the Factory

Photo of Billy Quinn's visit to the Factory 

Biopic skillfully captures the ambience of Andy Warhol's Factory, recreating scenes from Horse, Poor Little Rich Girl, Beauty No 2 and Vinyl. 

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