Factory Girl is a misshapen costume improvisation with psychedelic weepiness. Its like watching a high-school drama class trying to recreate the 1960s, with a lead actress who has really studied for the part.
Factory Girl centers on East Coast socialite Edie Sedgwick (Sienna Miller), who in the '60s was considered Andy Warhol's muse, was linked romantically to Bob Dylan, and eventually died of a drug overdose at 28. The story starts as Sedgwick, like a contemporary Paris Hilton, becomes a tabloid fixture on the New York social scene. Warhol (Guy Pearce) brings Edie into his Factory workshop, populated by boho artsy types who spend all day indulging Warhol's artistic fantasies. When Edie quickly scales the social ladder as Andy's pal, she meets a Bob Dylan-like rock star (Hayden Christensen). Edie reaches a social stratosphere quickly, but it is fleeting, and she spirals downward, lashing out at everyone, especially Warhol. Edie dies sadly, dismissed by some of the ones who loved her best.
As a tabloid staple herself due to her on-again, off-again relationship with Jude Law, Miller's performance as Edie is striking. Miller studied Sedgwick's life for a year to play the role, listening to tapes and interviewing friends and family of the deceased socialite and it paid off. Her commitment and effortlessness to Sedgwick's physicality, voice tone and histrionics feel lived in and Method-perfect. Pearce, as the duplicitous Warhol, also disappears into the role behind white face make-up and a slight build. Christensen, however, nearly kills the movie as Billy Quinn, a fictional version of Bob Dylan but more like a badly conspicuous caricature of the famous folk singer. When Christensen moves freely, without self conscience, he is as good as he was in Shattered Glass. But when he opens his mouth, Christensen becomes Anakin Skywalker playing Bob Dylan. Guaranteed at least one person in the audience will laugh.
George Hickenlooper bricks this one. The Mayor of the Sunset Strip director seems to have whipped something organic out of the 87-minute Factory Girl--too short to make an impact but mercifully and wisely cut down to the bare minimum. Hickenlooper has said he had to do a lot of "hand-holding" while making Factory Girl--and that he will never make another biopicand his restlessness and frustration are evident in the movie's lack of cohesion. The film's meticulousness to details is undermined by its ham-handedness and shoddy dramatics. Back to the factory line.
Hollywood.com rated this film 1 1/2 stars.