Saturday, March 5, 2011

The Notorious Bettie Page (2005) R - 3 Stars

So "Politically Incorrect" for the times, Bettie Page was the "Pin-Up Queen of the Universe." She brought beauty to boots and bondage, shocking the nation with her provocative photos. Senate hearings heard debates over it's labeling of art vs. pornography. In the end, censors started to ban the distribution, especially through the U.S. postal system.

Gretchen Mol does an awesome job portraying Page in both her innocence and beauty but you never get a look inside what made her who she became. You get a small peek at a situation but the movie doesn't follow through. For example, does she make a lot of money taking these photos, is she really that naive that she doesn't realize men are masturbating to her photos and does she get a divorce from her husband?

At the end, the movie jumps to Page finding religion again but it seemed so sudden and out of the blue. Also, the characters selling the films and photos are portrayed as pleasant chaps you might have tea with. But were these sessions really innocent visions of art? There must have been a darker side to cause Page's overnight transformation to religion. Unfortunately, the movie doesn't tell us. Filmed in B & W, it really adds to the feel of the 50's, slightly turning to color just as the era did.

The story...

Bettie Page (Gretchen Mol), was born and raised in a conservative religious family of Tennessee. Her father was abusive and her mother constantly brought her to church to repent her sins of hamming it up for boys. For fun, she would allow men to take photos of her in bathing suits as she knew this was her asset God had blessed her with. In the late 1940's, after an abusive marriage, she walked out and set her sights on New York City. There she was discovered by a photographer who takes her to the next level of modeling. Also starring Christopher Bauer, Jared Harris, Sarah Paulson, David Strathairn, Lili Taylor and Jonathan M. Woodward.

PictureHouse, Cinetic Media, Killer Films, HBO Films
Director: Mary Harron
Writers: Guinevere Turner, Mary Harron
Producers: Christine Vachon, Katie Roumel, Pamela Koffler
I viewed 1/11

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