Factory Girl: Did They?

A MovieSnobs Special Commentary on the debate surrounding Factory Girl. What has everyone up in arms?

If you haven’t seen Factory Girl, chances are, you’ve heard some talk of some scenes that made the final cut of the film.

The controversy is that Sienna Miller and Hayden Christensen allegedly engaged in actual intercourse during their big love scene in the movie. From what I have read from various sources, it has been denied. Whether or not they did, it still got the film some additional publicity.   As most of us know, the industry is quite dependent on that.  

When I decided to review Factory Girl, I wasn’t going in with the intent to address that matter. I wasn’t even really thinking about it until after the fact, as I try to avoid reading other critiques before I write my own.  I genuinely wanted to see the film and the depiction of a story that I was interested in. As a critic, my mind was focused on the performances, the plotline, and the action.  The overall merit of the film.  

If, in fact, it were true, why?   The lack of rationalization comes to mind. So many films have simulated sexual scenes and the actors deal with it discreetly and professionally.   What would have been the point? Now, if this were an adult film, it would be a given. That particular industry operates on a completely different scale, and most of us are aware of that.  

This hasn’t been the first time that the question of actual sex taking place in a non-adult film has come up. Supposedly, Chloe Sevigny performed oral sex on co-star Vincent Gallo in The Brown Bunny. I personally haven’t seen that film, so I really can’t comment on that. However, I think the same thought applies goes to this situation: if it happened or not, it got the film publicity.    Now, both Miller and Christensen are still fairly new to the business. Could this be putting a stigma on the two of them? In this celebrity-obsessed culture that we live in, the public is very fickle. If an actor or singer does something that is collectively perceived as unacceptable, the public can turn on them at the drop of a hat.  

I can understand how the controversy may have started, but I think it was blown out of proportion.   First, both actors were apparently very comfortable with frontal nudity and performing the requisite scene. They could have refused or requested a body double. Second, the lighting and the straight positioning of the camera could have very well tricked one’s eye into thinking that it was real. There weren’t a bunch of changes in focus or the shot itself, so there was no distraction from the scene.    

In essence, there shouldn’t really be any controversy. It should be irrelevant. Do the circumstances of said scene detract from the rest of the film? Not really. This scene isn’t overtly gratuitous and pointless. It didn’t seem to be distasteful or borderline pornographic, either. It was included for a specific reason. If the MPAA had made an objection to it, when the initial and final cuts were submitted, I’m sure that the filmmakers would have responded as needed.  

Please keep in mind that the film industry has certainly come a long way from the era of the Production Code, where preserving morals and maintaining a semblance of decency took precedence over artistry.  Also, don’t forget, there’s a reason why it’s called entertainment.  





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