Factory Girl is a dramatized biopic on the life and times of Edie Sedgwick, an underground film actress and socialite in the 1960’s. I think it’s important to introduce Edie in her own right, rather than ‘Andy Warhol’s muse’ or ‘ a dear friend of Andy Warhol’, both of which she was. However, Edie was victim of childhood sexual abuse which transcended into a lifelong drug dependency who managed to make a name for herself regardless.
Warhol is portrayed in a much more personalized manner than he’s usually depicted, by Guy Pierce who captures a
vulnerability in the artist. Sedgwick is brought to life beautifully by Sienna Miller who delved into the socialite’s history with a multitude of research, and you can tell!
From the very few clips of Edie available on YouTube, it’s clear that Miller strove to capture not only the accent, the look in her eye but the essence of Sedgwick, which was arguable the most captivating part of her
Director, George Hickenlooper approaches the story from a majorly nostalgic standpoint, dramatizing and fantasizing about the possible reality.
The cinematography focuses on landmarks like the depiction of the factory. It’s often filmed with a wider lens than other settings, which showcases the grandiose bohemia that defined the space, whilst also focusing on spaces like the famous Chelsea Hotel in New York City where Edie lives for a while, after she accidently sets her fancy apartment on fire. Not only does the mise-en-scene nostalgically reflects on an iconic era, the script and casting
The Lighting opts between colour and black and white throughout the film which could be interpreted as a bit obvious and cheesy but I thought it worked quite well in depicting the rise and fall of Edie. She would shine in immense, glamorous success whilst concealing post traumatic stress disorder from childhood abuse with a cocktail of drugs and alcohol. Edie’s life was both as vibrant as technicolor and as bleak and grayscale. The only balance is the hospital scenes which are lit neutrally, with a bittersweet sadness that dims that light.
It was said that Edie was instantly attracted to Bob Dylan when she met him, but historical accuracy will tell you he was already wed to Sara Dylan by the time they met and never officially entered a relationship. The film plays hard and loose with this storyline, earning them scathing critique from Dylan himself. It does work well in that it stands as a true honor the life and experience of Edie, not as a pedestal for the ego of Warhol.
Edie’s relationship with the Dylan-esque character works as a direct contrast between the obscurity of the factory and the rest of the world.
Edie tentatively balances these two sides of artistic bohemia, until her inability to commit to either one lands her in the middle of a busy road – a deer in the headlights.
Each craving what the other represented, Edie was enamored by the power of artistic freedom, Andy was obsessed with status, beauty and wealth. Coming from American ‘old money’, Edie craved more than an easy inheritance, Andy came from a humble, Slovakian heritage, craving extravagance.
The film is available to watch in full on YouTube, I would definitely recommend it. If anything, the film shows the fragility of society and how quickly you can vanish from stardom. It’s also about owning our trauma and being aware of people who will at first work to treat you as special, whilst holding this trauma in their arsenal to use against you when you stop co-operating.