In the years leading up to and following the death of Andy Warhol, insane amounts of fanfare surrounded the unrivaled pop artist. Perhaps even he could not have imagined the heights of idolatry that would come at the summit of his fame. Along the way, however, he encountered many friends and acolytes, one of whom would rise and fall directly because of him. In the highly scathing Factory Girl, the story of Edie Sedgwick's journey from art school socialite to film star, is told from a previously uncharted perspective: One that does not favor Warhol.
No one has ever commended Andy Warhol for his pleasant air. He was a man who let you know if you were relevant or not. This smugness is what enabled him to get so far so fast and rent the space on East 47th Street that would come to be known as the Factory. Originally intended as a place for him to create his mass produced art, the location evolved (or devolved) into Silver Factory Studios, decorated accordingly with aluminum foil, silver mylar balloons, and painted in silver.
At this point in time (1965), when Warhol was making the transition from canvas to film, he had been introduced to Edie at the apartment of a mutual acquaintance, Lester Persky. In Factory Girl, the encounter takes place at an art gallery where Warhol's work is being shown. Nuances aside, the meeting proved fateful for both of them. Edie began going to the Factory on a regular basis, where Andy was constantly shooting footage of his human collection of art.
Edie, freshly dropped out from art school in Massachusetts, was all too ready for excitement, a lust for which Andy provided in spades. The drugs (amphetamines, heroin, and cocaine were the favorites of Factory frequenters) and parties abounded in the private world of Andy Warhol. As their friendship grew stronger with the making of Poor Little Rich Girl, Edie began broadening her social horizons. This Andy did not like. Particularly when she began spending most of her time with Bob Dylan (although in the film it's just supposed to be some guy who looks and talks exactly like Dylan--but he isn't, okay? He's just a folk singer with no connection to Dylan whatsoever).
Warhol quickly diverts to stereotypical queen bitchery and starts shutting Edie out of his life. But shutting her out of his life means that everyone else in their social circle is obligated to as well. Considering Edie's personal fortune had vastly dwindled in the late 1960s due to obscene spending habits on absolute essentials like designer clothing and drugs, the rift in their relationship could not have come at a more inconvenient time as she desperately needed the money that came with the Manhattan-only fame of being an Andy Warhol superstar. But this was a plight that did not move Andy. He was done and that was that.
Sienna Miller may be noted primarily for her trashiness and dating history, but her performance as Edie Sedgwick is superlative. The two are almost indecipherable in terms of appearance, and the mannerisms that Miller is able to imitate, especially the way Sedgwick would smoke her cigarettes, are spot on. Warhol also has a doppelganger in Guy Pearce, who plays an asexual gay man so well I cannot believe even the Golden Globe Awards snubbed him.
While many of Warhol's superstars faded away after the sixties, the most tragic disintegration into obscurity was Edie's. Her trusting and oblivious nature led her to believe that a friendship with an unabashed and self-proclaimed narcissist could stand the test of time. With other projects to pursue, Warhol largely forgot about Sedgwick until her death in 1971 of a probably accidental overdose. He expressed brief lament, but continued focusing on his manifold projects, namely Interview magazine. Like so much of went on in the Factory, Edie and Andy's relationship could only exist in a vortex, in that sort of alternate universe that was 1960s Manhattan.