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Awesome: 32.81%
Worth A Look42.19%
Average: 23.44%
Pretty Bad: 1.56%
Total Crap: 0%

8 reviews, 16 user ratings

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Notorious Bettie Page, The
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by William Goss

"Whip It Good"
4 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2006 SXSW FILM FESTIVAL: There is a scene in 'The Notorious Bettie Page,' during which the lead character is posing outdoors for a photo shoot. Eventually, the photographer encourages Page to bare it all for the camera. The scene is a most revealing one, truly breathtaking not because of the assets on display, but because it demonstrates both the endearing and enduring appeal of Bettie Page as a pin-up legend and the tremendous talent of Gretchen Mol as an actress to fully embody such extraordinary grace.

Director Mary Harron and writer Guinevere Turner reunite for the first time since 2000ís American Psycho to chronicle the life of Page, from her humble Tennessee upbringing to her infamous career as a pin-up model, which resulted in a Senate hearing concerning some of her, um, stricter poses. Harron tells the story in gorgeous black-and-white, with only select scenes, mostly taking place in Miami, appearing in beautiful Technicolor, while Turner keeps events moving at a brisk pace. The supporting cast, highlighted by Lili Taylor and David Strathairn, seem more comfortable than anything in their roles, with no particularly strong or weak performers sticking out.

As such, the burden falls on Mol (The Shape of Things, Rounders) to carry the film, a task that she is more than up for. There is a purity about Page that makes her relentlessly fascinating, and she conveys that with utmost sincerity and apparent ease. Raised with religion, Page believed that she was simply making full use of the body that God gave her to make people happy. She may take a page out of the Good Book, but you canít take the Good Book out of Page. Even when tied up in a Christ-like manner (although in sinful circumstances), she is convinced that she is doing the right thing; otherwise, He would most certainly let her know. Only upon the federal investigations does she begin to feel ashamed of her participation in such pornography, resulting in a relatively abrupt ending to the film. However, Mol never misses a beat, emitting genuine innocence and loveliness in every frame. Although my personal familiarity with the actual Bettie Page is somewhat lacking, my doubts concerning the accuracy of her portrayal are minimal at best. Molís work is exemplary by any standards, physical and beyond, and one that perfectly suits the story.

The film is nearly too glossy for its own good, yet one can liken it to the simple charm of Page herself, as opposed to most clunky biopics that feel obligated to deliver a Message. 'The Notorious Bettie Page' is an effortlessly captivating film, especially due to Molís accomplished performance and the magnificent cinematography. At the very least, it certainly would have kept me awake in history class.

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originally posted: 04/10/06 16:04:59
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Toronto Film Festival For more in the 2005 Toronto Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 South By Southwest Film Festival For more in the 2006 South By Southwest Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 Portland Film Festival For more in the 2006 Portland Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

10/07/08 Will Excellent 5 stars
8/09/07 John Aster Habig Great Bio Film I've always fantasized about BP but now she seems more human 4 stars
7/29/07 Charles Tatum The E True Hollywood Story was more informative 3 stars
4/18/07 David Pollastrini Gretchen Mol looked hot in this! 2 stars
1/11/07 Jeff Anderson Terrifically authentic & refreshingly sweet biopic. Mol is a stunning marvel as Bettie Page 5 stars
11/10/06 AnnieG Well-acted. Not much plot, but an enjoyable movie. 4 stars
10/15/06 Phil M. Aficionado Nothing special. Not bad but pretty shallow and cliched 3 stars
10/11/06 E.G. Great film 5 stars
10/10/06 bill C FANTASTIC! 5 stars
5/28/06 jcjs simply wonderful 5 stars
5/20/06 San Lamar sweet 5 stars
4/24/06 J. Silva Great, Sweet, Fun movie 5 stars
4/13/06 San Lamar A MUST SEE! 5 stars
9/29/05 E. Northam A strangely flat, unerotic film of a fascinating subject's naivete of kinky sexuality. 3 stars
9/17/05 bankrbear Wonderful cinematography, great performances 4 stars
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  14-Apr-2006 (R)
  DVD: 26-Sep-2006



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