Talk about a disaster movie — this biopic about the 1960s scene surrounding Andy Warhol (Guy Pearce), as seen through the eyes of blueblood ingénue Edie Sedgwick (Sienna Miller), is less a coherent narrative than a whole bunch of bad ideas put together in sequence. Sedgwick’s druggy tumble from the celebrity stratosphere into an unmade bed at the Chelsea Hotel really does feel like a tragedy, even in this limp film, but something about Factory Girl’s vision of the events remains unusually unconvincing. Here, Sedgwick is depicted as an unsuspecting victim of Warhol (portrayed as a sunken-faced near-sociopath compensating for his insecurities by exploiting the more-talented people around him) and a musician named Quinn (played monotonously by Hayden Christensen as a lazy caricature of Bob Dylan circa Blonde on Blonde), both of whom befriend but eventually abandon her.
Despite an agreeable attitude toward nudity, Miller never quite approaches Sedgwick’s sexiness or her screen presence, and Pearce’s semi-charismatic Warhol is just a walking corpse. (Jimmy Fallon, of all people, skulks around the sidelines.) I hate to pick on the movie just for its low budget, but the New York locations are staged from comically low angles, presumably to keep non-period details like contemporary buildings and cars out of the frame, and director George Hickenlooper’s hinky restagings of Sedgwick’s Factory films do nothing to bolster the film’s verisimilitude. Essentially, Factory Girl stacks the deck against Warhol by denying that he was ever up to anything interesting, anyway, and then having its Dylan surrogate complain about how fake he is. Unimpressed, the real Dylan actually threatened a lawsuit to block the film’s release last year as the manufactured late-December Oscar hype surrounding it fizzled ingloriously. In a word, yikes.