The Heat of the Moment

Just as Taylor finds the center of Solanas's turbulent personality, so too Jared Harris nails Warhol's ghostlike passive-aggressive essence. Harris uncannily captures the vacuous, hollow-platitude-mumbling, scatterbrained persona that Andy used to protect himself from crazies, critics, and overzealous fans alike. Together Taylor and Harris make it seem almost inevitable that their characters' paths should cross. Despite their obvious differences, Andy Warhol and Valerie Solanas shared a sense of underlying isolation and vulnerability.

Director Harron constructs a poignant scene late in the movie that beautifully illustrates this bond: The soft-spoken artist and the loudmouthed lesbian find themselves seated calmly next to each other on a couch while a raucous and decadent Factory party swirls around them. All the usual Factory suspects are there A Candy Darling, studly Warhol muse/assistant Gerard Malanga, filmmaker Paul Morrissey, photographer Billy Name, amphetamine-chomping Solanas-baiter Ondine, speed freak Brigid "The Duchess" Polk, art groupie Ultra Violet, and last but not least Viva, Edie Sedgwick's successor as Warhol's favored female film superstar. Harron gleefully re-creates the whole mind-blowing experience: The Velvet Underground performs live; psychedelic lights flash; partygoers drink, dance, initiate sex, and literally roll around in drugs. And Warhol and Solanas just sit there, taking it all in, incapable of joining the merriment. "Everyone is having such a good time," Andy comments wistfully. In that split second you realize what drew the pop culture iconographer and the rabid lesbian guerrilla fighter together: These two outsiders would never fit in at any party. In retrospect it seems almost inevitable that this pair of rebels against the status quo should have found each other, and equally inescapable that their delicate alliance would end tragically.

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