Who was Edie Sedgwick and why should we care about her? Ah, the question Factory Girl promised to answer. But both the theatrical cut and this unrated version — with 15 minutes of new footage — do so only superficially, offering us a snapshot of a troubled socialite who briefly reigned over mid-1960s New York City as Andy Warhol’s muse before fatally overdosing at age 28. In her first lead role, Sienna Miller nails Sedgwick’s manic, mod-kitten charisma, and Guy Pearce, as Warhol, is creepy narcissism personified. What’s missing, even with restored scenes like the one in which Sedgwick wistfully recalls breaking a man’s heart, is a deeper exploration of what drew her to the Pop-art pioneer and, more importantly, who the woman behind those massive fake eyelashes really was. In his commentary, director George Hickenlooper says his intention was always for Factory Girl to play like a two-dimensional Warhol silkscreen and to feel ”like [Andy and Edie’s] superficial life.” Yet he also goes to great lengths to explain, time and again, that the movie hinges on deep emotion. How a film can possibly manage to do both is a mystery.
Of course, Hickenlooper would probably just tell me that I’m not smart enough to grasp his point. Because his commentary also attacks the critics who panned his movie, especially the ”consumer guide reviewers” from ”suburban newspapers” who dream of becoming part of the ”New York literati.” It’s incredibly condescending. And revealing about his own insecurities as a filmmaker. C+