I Shot Andy Warhol

Director: Mary Harron

Former documentary filmmaker Mary Harron makes a memorable feature debut with this highly engrossing and evocative trip through the New York underground of the late 1960s. The film features a knockout performance from U.S. indie movie queen Lili Taylor as Valerie Solanis, radical lesbian, sometime prostitute and destitute author, who claimed her own 15 minutes of fame in 1968 when she gunned down Andy Warhol in his office.
Living destitute on a succession of rooftops and in cheap hotels, Solanis gains entry to Warhol’s ‘Factory’ through friendship with Candy Darling (a barely recognisable Stephen Dorff). She tries to convince Warhol (Jared Harris) to produce her play Up Your Ass, which only serves to provide amusement for the perpetually louche Factory family. At the same time she meets the infamous producer of subversive literature, Maurice Girodias (Lothaire Blutheau), who promises to publish her extreme feminist diatribe SCUM (Society for Cutting Up Men). Taking to the streets to sell her manifesto and, rather more successfully, her body, she is eventually excomunicated from Warhol’s court as her behaviour turns increasingly irrational and extreme. Believing that Warhol and Girodias are conspiring to destroy her, Solanis resorts to extreme measures ot make her presence felt.
I Shot Andy Warhol is a compelling recreation of a much documented period. It’s success lies in its assured tone and strong performances, with none of the characters ever lapsing into parody. Taylor is a revelation, capturing the thin line between genius and madness in Solaris’s character with absolute conviction and force. Her bravura performance is nicely contrasted with Harris’s vaguely limp Warhol and an agreeably slimy Blutheau. John Cale, formerly of the Velvet Underground, provides a lively score, which is complemented by several songs of the era interpreted by the cream of today’s alternative crop.

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