I Shot Andy Warhol is a biopic about Valerie Solanas, yet makes the world around her much more intriguing than its subject. Lili Taylor portrays Valerie, the radical lesbian-feminist who, as the title says, shot Andy Warhol. It follows her quickly from her battered childhood through some college studies where her bizaare philosophy was born. However after introducing her S.C.U.M. manifesto (that’s Society for Cutting Up Men), the film hits a rut. We are drawn through tale after tale of how Valerie yearns for fame and for a man-free society, only to be denied. Much more interesting at this point in the film is the crowd she hangs around with, including her former lesbian lover (Martha Plimpton), a transsexual (Stephen Dorff), and, of course, Andy Warhol (Jared Harris). But, unfortunately, the film must stick with its subject, and we follow her into schizophrenic paranoia and despair, until she discovers an ultimate way to achieve fame. Taylor does a good job at bringing Valerie to life, even if it is a rather repugnant and lifeless one. But with such interesting stuff happening in the periphery, it would be hard to concentrate on even a thoroughly engaging character. The film excels in those moments when it breaks off of its subject in order to explore Warhol’s Factory. But, like the inevitability of history, you know Valerie will soon return, and all hope will be lost.
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