Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout
is a beautiful woman without good sense.
This is a very flawed, sometimes confusing film, but it provides a fascinating at the hollowness of many of the people involved in the art world of New York in the Sixties. It is framed by its subject Edie Sedgwick (Sienna Miller) talking with her therapist in 1970 as she relates the incidents of her tormented life since meeting Andy Warhol (Guy Pearce) in 1965. A rich heiress enrolled in art school, she readily accepted his invitation to become “a superstar” in his anti-art movies. The darling of the ant-establishment crowd drinking and mainlining their lives away, Warhol’s intention was always to remind the viewers that they were watching a movie, and in no way participating in events far away—as he makes his spoof of a Western he deliberately instructs a crew member to lower the mike boom so that it will show in the frame.
Although gay, Warhol surrounded himself with beautiful women, focusing his attention on one at a time, until he had gained all he wished from her. Such a fate befalls Edie, her face becoming well known through her mentor’s underground movies, and Andy even taking her to meet his mother. Toward the end of their relationship he humiliates her during a filming scene. The film also delves into her troubled relationship with her parents, especially her father whom she calls Fuzzy (James Naughton). Disapproving of her chosen lifestyle, they cut her off, refusing to help her even when she is cast out and penniless. There is an affair with a folk/rock singer identified only as the Musician (Hayden Christensen), which might be made up. The Musician is made to look like Bob Dylan, and rides a motorcycle, but there is no known record of the real Sedgwick having such an affair, and Bob Dylan made a threat to sue before the picture was released. Whatever the truth, there is no doubt that the screen Edie is right when she says that she made “the wrong choice” along the way. It is not giving anything away to report that she died of a drug overdose a year after her. Thus the Teacher might well have written of the hollow lives of the “superstar” and so many of her friends, “Vanity of vanities…vanity of vanities! All is vanity.”