I Shot Andy Warhol

on May 01, 1996 by L.L.
   When she shot Andy Warhol and art dealer Mario Amayo in 1968, Valerie Solanas quite literally jumped the gun on Warhol's prophecy that in the future everyone would be famous for 15 minutes.
   As played to realistic perfection by Lili Taylor right down to the dirt under her fingernails, Solanas is an eerie combination of sexual sophistication, intellectual wit and professional naivet‚. Now known for her "S.C.U.M. (Society for Cutting Up Men) Manifesto," Solanas was then a fringe player in Warhol's art and experimental film factory. A ruthless self-promoter and a morass of man-hating paranoia, Solanas was desperate that Warhol produce a play she had written. Fed up with frustration after several fruitless attempts to get his attention, Solanas attacked him at point-blank range. Though he lived another two decades, he never fully recovered.
   Taylor's forceful, empathetic presence makes Valerie much less hateful than she might have been if played by another actress. As her transvestite friend Candy Darling, Stephen Dorff shows appealing range and looks surprisingly good in heels. And Jared Harris plays Warhol with a passive air that occasionally gives way to a jumpy, frightened rabbit quality.
   Thanks to Mary Harron and Daniel Minahan's exhaustive research, the New York City of "I Shot Andy Warhol" has an authentic undercurrent that shows in Therese Deprez's grittily accurate production design. In one standout party scene, Harron and Deprez masterfully recreate the decadence, androgyny and anything-goes atmosphere of Warhol's Factory. Appropriately given the Warhol scene's fascination with "underground" cinema, director of photography Ellen Kuras recaptures the essence of experimental cinematography, at times using Godard-esque jump cuts and strikingly juxtaposed film stocks.
   Though it drags in the middle and could stand to lose a few minutes off its running time, "I Shot Andy Warhol" is a compelling movie. Neither justifying nor glorifying Solanas' infamous act, "I Shot Andy Warhol" gives this historical footnote her own chapter.    Starring Lili Taylor, Jared Harris, Martha Plimpton and Stephen Dorff. Directed by Mary Harron. Written by Mary Harron and Daniel Minahan. Produced by Tom Kalin and Christine Vachon. A Samuel Goldwyn release. Drama. Not yet rated. Running time: 100 min.
Tags: Lili Taylor, Jared Harris, Martha Plimpton, Stephen Dorff, Directed by Mary Harron, Written by Mary Harron, Daniel Minahan, Produced by Tom Kalin, Christine Vachon, A Samuel Goldwyn release, Drama, empathetic, forceful, New York city, Godard-esque, historical

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