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The Notorious Bettie Page (DVD)
Member Name: cerys82
The Notorious Bettie Page (DVD)
Advantages: Sympathetic and stylish biopic
Disadvantages: Some quite extreme imagery
*This is a film only review*
Released in 2005, this HBO produced film is a biopic of Bettie Page, 50's pinup model who ended up being placed in the middle of an obscentity trial due to her more explicit and, ahem, extreme photographs and films.
Brought up as a conservative Christian in Nashville, Page is the victim of terrible abuse by men before finding her niche in modelling. It starts innocently enough at first, however, in time she enters the world of 'specialist' modelling. Posing for naked and fetish photographs. Employed by an agency who specialise in these images, she in time finds herself embroiled in growing controversy surrounding the assumed immorality of her photographs and films. Meanwhile she is also persuing an acting career, somewhat unsuccessfully, trying to find a successful romantic relationship and also trying to balance her strongly held religious beliefs with the demands of her profession.
Page is excellently played by Gretchen Mol. Despite undergoing some terrible events, she does not present herself as a victim. Sweet but not naive, smart but not conceited - its a difficult balance which is successfully done.
It is incredibly stylishly shot - mainly in black and white but with the old splashes of colour film. It gives a very authentic 50's feel throughout - reminiscent of and with the same level of detail as LA Confidential. The outfits are absolutely stunning, and the whole thing is actually quite beautiful.
The tone of the film is relatively light for a biopic, choosing not to dwell on some quite dark events but surprisingly the film does not really suffer for this. In fact, it just makes it more relevant to our times in a number of ways. For instance, I buy clothes from a number of alternative clothing shops both off and online and there is a clothing 'scene' and style which alludes to the 50's pinup look, all tight skirts, fitted tops, high heels and old school glamour - and lest we forget the clothing styles of Katy Perry and Amy Winehouse. This is proof that aesthetically Page's influence is still present. Also, in an age when you can go to any supermarket newsstands and see more explicit images on the front of the likes of Nuts and Zoo, than Page ever produced is quite sobering and gives a really good reference point.
The end itself comes rather abruptly, a little clichéd and does not go into Page's life following her resignation from modelling - but on contemplation this may be because the director wanted it to be a period piece.
In conclusion, I really enjoyed this film, finding it an interesting insight to sexuality and social attitudes towards women at that time and as experienced by a woman who is strong and knowing. It is a sympathetic portrayal, which a cheeky naughtiness to it although some of the more explicit imagery may go a little beyond what is comfortable.
Summary: An interesting look into an unusual life