The Notorious Bettie Page (18)

Film image

The ViewLondon Review

StarStarStarNo StarNo Star
Review byMatthew Turner02/08/2006

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 91 mins

Mary Harron's Bettie Page biopic is beautifully shot and features a terrific performance by Gretchen Mol, but it's also frustratingly vague and never gets beneath the surface.

What's it all about?
Gretchen Mol stars as Bettie Page, a quiet, good-natured, church-going girl from Nashville, Tennessee. After brief hints at a turbulent home life (abused by her father, a loveless early marriage) and a further traumatic incident, the film follows Bettie into the modelling career that will make her famous.

Bettie has a natural ease in front of the camera that seems to stem from her good-natured naivety. Through the kindly influence of a group of New York photographers (played by Lili Taylor, Jared Harris and Chris Bauer) she becomes a sensation as a fetish model, eventually winding up at the centre of a senate investigation into pornography before turning to religion in later life.

The Good
The film looks terrific. Director Mary Harron (I Shot Andy Warhol) shoots the majority of the film in period black and white, with occasional bursts of bright technicolour. That said, there's no real reason for the colour sequences (they're not symbolic of anything and they don't indicate the past or present), which is occasionally frustrating.

Mol is superb, perfectly recreating the familiar poses in which Bettie seemed to be thoroughly enjoying herself whilst retaining a wholesome, good-natured and even virginal attitude to the entire thing. There's also strong support from the likes of Lili Taylor and Sarah Paulson as a Miami-based photographer with a crush on Bettie.

The Bad
The main problem with the film is that it remains deliberately and frustratingly vague throughout. Most importantly, we never learn about her private life or even her attitude to sex itself, since we never see her in a meaningful relationship.

Worth seeing?
Ultimately, the film is disappointing as a biopic because it refuses to provide any insight into Bettie's character. However, it's still worth seeing for Mol's impressive performance.

Film Trailer

The Notorious Bettie Page (18)
Be the first to review The Notorious Bettie Page...
image
01 Serena (15)

Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper

image
02 Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (tbc)

Steve Carell, Jennifer Garner, Dylan Minnette, Ed ...

image
03 The Second Best Marigold Hotel (12)

Maggie Smith, Judi Dench, Celia Imrie, Richard Ger...

image
04 Home (PG)

Jim Parsons, Rihanna, Jennifer Lopez

image
05 Fury (15)

Brad Pitt, Shia LaBeouf, Logan Lerman

Content updated: 24/10/2014 07:57

Latest Film Reviews

Film of the Week

Fury (15)

Brad Pitt and his tank crew have to battle their way through war torn Germany after four years of hard fighting.

UK Box Office Top 5 Films