George Hickenloopers cursory biopic on the original 60s superstar and Warhol (Guy Pearce) confidante, Edie Sedgwick (Sienna Miller) begins by traversing the pitfalls of fame, and then falls into a grimy ditch, which it never really seems capable enough to crawl out from. You can almost sense that Hickenlooper finds himself way over his head as it trudges along Edies long, hard road to tenuous immortality, as muse and discard of Andy Warhol. The film feels much too didactic, much against the flow of its subjects essence. Factory Girl starts off by using a generic structural device of flashbacks to prop the story against a self-elucidating narration that appears to be the basis to the films abrupt conclusion, not that different from Edies own end.
Edie decided early on to circumvent her prestigious background by seeking the fringe elements, as they were, in New York where she met Warhol who was soon enchanted by the ingnue and her background. The film argues that this association with Warhol and his cadre of sycophants led Edie to her eventual fall from grace. Examining Edies relationship with Warhol exposes the lack of psychological perspectives that should have actually taken centre stage amidst the proceedings in the Factory, the loft where Warhol work with a menagerie of characters, wherein Edies seduction began. The rampant, and casual drug use is clearly an important part of her tragic trajectory, as is her trusting disposition to those around her caused by her need to be accepted by her own societys unacceptable. The film approaches this downfall with an antiseptic clarity that just feels entirely superficial (like the costume party detail that went into the set design), especially when the narrative inherently offers up hints at the turmoil and confusion that has littered Edies decisions at every crossroad.
The angry disdain shown towards the two most well known men in Edies life, Warhol and the Bob Dylan archetype is almost construed as villainous, which makes it all the more intriguing. Warhol, played with mechanical precision by Pearce, feeds on Edies life force and bank accounts by offering her the accursed 15 minutes of fame. Hes also illustrated as a selfish man, who uses her for companionship instead of the friendship that Edie perceives it as. The relationship takes a sour turn when Edie finds herself in the arms of Billy Quinn (Hayden Christensen), the rocker who seems more interested in sidetracking her from Warhols influences. That would be chivalrous if it wasnt already shown that hes more interested in sticking it to all that Warhol represents than actually helping the poor little rich girl.
Although its never really kind to the serpentine Warhol or the hypocritical Bob Dylan-esque musician, it also ends up patronising Edie by crafting a sense of mock sympathy towards her struggles. She merely becomes a human canvas for misery and foolishness. There's nothing redeeming about watching Edie drugged, raped and rejected at every turn even if there was a tentative thematic purpose for such a distressingly dour view of humanity's flaws. She ultimately ends up becoming a template for the follies of youth, drugs and the obsession for celebrity instead of the individual that she so desperately sought to be. Such are the ordeals, that it is all the more laudable that the engaging and beautiful Miller gives her all in her performance. Its just a shame that the entire film ends up being perfunctory and shallow by chewing her up and spitting her out as it did Edie.