Review: Andy X

15/09/2011

I had two major problems with Andy X, Jim “Rocky Horror” Sharman’s 40-minute musical on Warhol, screening at Brisbane Festival. The first was that I felt like it missed the point of who Andy was. Usually on seeing a film about a real person (I hesitate to say biopic, it isn’t trying to be one) you learn something new about them, even a tiny detail, you didn’t know before. Having read about half of the (sizeable) Andy Warhol Diaries during university, I’m hardly an expert, but I got the impression I knew him better than the people who had so lovingly put this tribute together. For example, everybody in the film mispronounces “Basquiat” as (forgive my attempt at French phonetics) “Bascroix”, which is a bit ridiculous when he is a character and dialogue is directed at him. There were even a few moments that seemed (to me, anyway) to allude to Andy as heterosexual, which jarred, and the overall story just felt empty of research.

The film’s other big flaw is that, while the song lyrics are awkwardly literal, the narration, by a “Street Poet” who is confusingly never really introduced as a character, is abstract to the point of meaninglessness. I have no problem with this indirect approach to storytelling – it’s a little like Todd Haynes’ Velvet Goldmine in its treatment of its subject, and I will never stop loving that film – but here the free verse narration feels like a cringeworthy affectation with nothing to do with either Andy Warhol or the story being told.

Visually the film is much more interesting, although that’s easy to come by these days, and the performers, especially the actress playing Valerie Solanas, are pretty good. I might be being too harsh, although that wasn’t my intention, but the film is being released online in November, so you can make up your own mind. I wanted to like it though, and I just couldn’t.

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