First things first. Sienna Miller can act. And yes, dear testosterone-producing readers, she does get them out. However, the latter feels like a milksop gesture to try and get more of an audience for what is a very conventional, slightly plodding biopic. Miller plays Edie Sedgwick, the poor-little-rich-girl who became Andy Warhol’s muse. Dropping out of art school, Sedgwick became a fixture of Warhol’s ‘Factory’… and, as so many did in the 60s, burnt brightly and briefly, before descending into a world of narcotics and an early death.
If that’s all you knew about Sedgwick going into the film, you won’t know a great deal more after it’s finished. Director George Hickenlooper skips through the key points, frames it all with a clunky Sedgwick-as-psychiatric-patient device and reduces key 1960’s moments to a facile series of interludes. Rather than being an important 60s figure, Warhol — played with some power by a virtually unrecognisable Guy Pearce — appears to be the lead figure in a bizarre high school clique. The relationship between him and Edie — he needed her beauty, she needed his cool — is generally believable, not least thanks to the actors, but the background of bitching hangers on doesn’t sit comfortably. It could be painfully accurate, of course, but it feels like emotional shorthand.
Bizarrely, for such a founded-in-reality film, Hickenlooper then throws in a fictitious character, Bob Dylan-esque rocker Billy Quinn (Hayden Christensen). The film then descends into a bizarre battle between the two for Edie’s ‘soul’, although their motivations aren’t really clear. It just feels like more emotional shorthand, a hint that Edie’s fate was due to her life’s running theme of manipulative men. This may be true but it’s a trite summation in this instance and, like the film as a whole, throws no real light on Edie’s rise and downfall.