Director Mary Harron invades the sixties tinfoil castle of Andy Warhol and spins a kind of art deco loser romance with the very talented Lili Taylor playing the very butch Valerie Solanas, who actually did shoot Andy Warhol. I have been driving myself crazy trying to recall who Taylor is taking off on, some little guy, ghetto denizen from a forgotten flick of my mind. If anybody recognizes the style, please let me know. Anyway, she manages to be surprisingly sympathetic as the authoress of the SCUM manifesto (that's "Society for the Cutting Up of Men") and a play entitled "Up Your ...," which I suppose is appropriate considering the decadence depicted. Taylor's Valerie Solanas is strangely winning as a victim of a desperate, mad integrity. (I suspect the real Valerie was anything but sympathetic.) She won't take a job but will beg, panhandle, turn tricks and steal. She's a true believer whose main tenet is that men are something akin to a disease. Because she is bright and witty and courageous she wins us over even though she hates us. We forgive her because we know she hurts a lot and can't help herself. (To which she would say, "...")
Harron decorates this sixties cum nineties version of New York chic/flophouse reality with the kind of degenerate personalities for which the Big Apple is justly famous. Jared Harris plays Andy Warhol brilliantly with something like a truer than true characterization, combining a sympathetic, eccentric and gentle exterior with an exploitive mercantile heart. One gets the sense that he had it coming. Stephen Dorff is Candy Darling, a transvestite so fetching that he makes a guy like me wish he had a sister. Lothaire Bluteau as Olympia Press publisher Maurice Girodias seems a little young, but otherwise fits the bill, and Martha Plimpton as Stevie does a nice job in a modest part. The sound track might catch your ear with Blue Cheer performing the Coasters' "Summertime Blues" and Bettie Serveert doing a fine interpretation of Dylan's "I'll Keep It with Mine." Jewel (yes, the very same) sings "Sunshine Superman," and completing the nineties accent on the sixties, REM does "Love Is All Around." Probably outright anachronistic is the use of an aluminum soda can to smoke grass. I don't think that came into practice until later when the skunkweed got so strong you could smoke it like hash.
Some other sights: the Andy Warhol hanger-ons doing a faux sand-painting mandala with pills as they party, and then one of them rolling her naked torso into the pills so that they stick to her body. Or the guy coming out of--an encounter, we'll call it--with a jar of Vaseline in hand in time to greet some slumming French aristocratic ladies whose hands (one gloved) he kisses. In a bit of haute culture ridicule, another of the hangers-on asks poor Candy Darling, "We've been wondering, how often do you get your period?" To which s/he replies, "Every day. I'm all woman."
If you're the kind of person who watches the Disney Channel, I would recommend you skip this. Otherwise you might want to check it out. I found it surprisingly smart and witty. The print is finely cut, the acting is superior, and there's an underlying sense of something close to the heroic in a clearly quixotic way.