The Notorious Bettie Page

Directed by Mary Harron

> > Sep 2006

The Notorious Bettie Page - Directed by Mary Harron
By Keith CarmanOdds are if the subject is still breathing yet wants nothing to do with a film about them the finished product will suffer. Guess what happens to The Notorious Bettie Page, a movie presumably not intended to be more forgettable tripe spewed out by a blockbuster flick factory but falling into those exact "this is cool kitsch” trappings? A scripted work about the life of the world’s most infamous ’50s pin-up girl, this movie reeks of futility. Director Mary Harron hurries it for no reason, making everything confusing and disjointed. With a lack of detail, finer points in Page’s life are skimmed over, making many important events secondary to watching Page be photographed in compromising positions. This in turn generates the atmosphere that one is witnessing more vignettes tarted up to fit in with Page’s nostalgic cheesecake image than a true delving into what this woman is/was about. Any aspect for Page’s life (down-home Tennessee girl, abused wife, model and Senate investigation target) could be a film unto itself, yet Harron glazes over all of it with ridiculous speed. How she can justify encapsulating Page meeting a man, marrying him, being abused and moving to New York City in a two-minute montage without expounding on its impact on her life is impudent and sad. While it is wonderful to see Gretchen Mol’s Bettie Page come across as confident, self-assured and stable, one has to wonder exactly how true-to-form this is when controversy over Page’s "being used” by photographer Irving Klaw (portrayed here by an unmemorable Chris Bauer) has swirled over recent years. With a plot as thin as the celluloid it was committed to, The Notorious Bettie Page does nothing to educate or advance the saga of one of pop culture’s most recognisable and daring icons. Extras: audio commentary with Mol, Harron and co-writer Guinevere Turner, "Pin-Up Queen of the Universe” documentary, more. (Alliance Atlantis)
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