A spanner sits in the works of real-life drama Factory Girl, and no, that's not a dig at Sienna Miller. She does a fair job of pouting and weeping as socialite-turned-model-muse Edie Sedgwick (even though Guy Pearce is much more compelling as pop artist Andy Warhol). The deeper problem lies in the film's conception. It's framed as a doomed, platonic love affair but in conveying both parties as spiritually bankrupt, director George Hickenlooper denies us a reason to care.
Edie is an aimless soul rocketed to stardom in aimless films 'directed' - in the loosest sense of the word - by Warhol. A psychedelic whirl of parties and general debauchery ensues, and Hickenlooper captures all the basement grime chic of 60s Manhattan with sometimes arresting visuals. The opening, which finds Sedgwick (eyes caked in kohl) sprinting through traffic is attention grabbing, but Hickenlooper otherwise has a tendency to meander.
"AN UNCONVINCING PORTRAIT"
It's not entirely the director's fault since Sedgwick didn't do much except drink, shoot heroin and flounce around in groovy threads. Her self-destructive behaviour is put down to sexual abuse in her childhood, and still her cheerful passivity means she's difficult to root for. Pearce finds another level to Warhol, the 'little boy lost' to Sedgwick's 'poor little rich girl', but the shallow script keeps him from delving. Meanwhile Hayden Christensen lurks awkwardly in the background as Sedgwick's lover - a musician obviously based on Bob Dylan, but never referred to by name for legal reasons. In all it's an unconvincing portrait, and as the Dylan clone says, "Empty, like one of those cans of soup..."
Factory Girl is released in UK cinemas on Friday 16th March 2007.