Beauty #2 (1965)

Genres - Avant-garde / Experimental  |   Run Time - 66 min.  |  
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Of all of the self-styled "superstars" with whom Andy Warhol populated his films, Edie Sedgwick (who died of a drug overdose in 1971) is probably the most famous and the most tragic. Her quiet self-absorption and emotional fragility stood in stark contrast to the manic, attention-grabbing antics of the other eccentrics vying for Warhol's attention and screen time. In Beauty #2, Sedgwick lounges on a bed in her underwear, accompanied by a similarly clad man (Gino Piserchio). Off-screen, Chuck Wein and Gerard Malanga regale her with questions and comments designed to provoke a wide range of emotional responses while Piserchio makes numerous attempts to seduce her. At times Sedgwick laughs, or seems to become depressed. At one point she and Piserchio begin to make love, only to be interrupted by a cutting off-screen comment which so upsets her that she has to stop. As in the screen tests, Warhol coaxes reactions from his subject through psychological manipulation, but here that manipulation is at the same time more intense and more ambiguous. It's easy to see Beauty #2 as evidence of the cruelty inherent in Warhol's use of obviously unstable people in his films, but what makes this film so compelling is that it's never clear how complicit Sedgwick was in her own exploitation.