The plots of many films are so ridiculous that you know they are not based on a true story. Some films, however, are that ridiculous but somehow are still based on a true story. This is the case with Mary Harron’s I Shot Andy Warhol (1996). With a simple style, it’s scandalous subjects, straight-forward motif, unique characters, and the unorthodox feelings being conveyed by the film, I Shot Andy Warhol ends up being a rather enjoyable film.
The style of how this film is shot is rather simple, but that’s not a bad thing. There are no huge panning shots, long-one takes, or strange angles, which is good because this film did not need it. There were a couple scenes that were in black and white but the movie benefited from having those shots like that. The director did not try and do anything crazy in this film. The story of this film was crazy enough that it did not need any camera tricks to enhance it. The least simple part of the film, stylistically speaking, is that it featured, between each “act” of the film, the main character reading from a book that was written by the real-life person the character is based on. This works nicely to split up parts of the film and to give glimpse at the psyche of the person we are following throughout this film. Additionally, this film included some scandalous subjects, at least for the time of the film’s release. The subjects of the film included everything from prostitution, drug use, homosexuals, and transsexuals, not the typical subject matter of the Hollywood system. This film really stepped away from the film industry norm, and it paid off. Audiences saw in this film what they were not getting elsewhere and they liked it. Clearly, because I’m still talking about it today.
As mentioned above, this film features some unique characters. The main character Valerie, is crass, vulgar, unapologetic, selfish, insane, and most importantly unsympathetic. A majority of the characters, especially the ones surrounding Andy Warhol, are very unsympathetic characters as well. The only two main characters who could be considered sympathetic are Candy Darling, the drag queen and later transgender women, and to an extent Andy Warhol, although he is often shown as being a bit selfish and mean spirited in the film. Much like the simple style of the film, the large cast of unlikeable and unsympathetic characters works greatly in favor of it and helps set the scene and establish the world around Andy Warhol. This film creates some unorthodox feelings in the audience. Going in, the audience members know that Valerie will shoot Andy Warhol, as it is shown in the first scene, but the film still tries to set up Valerie in a somewhat sympathetic light despite being very unlikeable. The audience is shown that no one is taking Valerie seriously and watch as she starts to go insane and most audience members will feel bad for her but at the same time, they know that she will end up shooting Andy Warhol, who was shown to be an overall good guy. It creates an odd feeling where the audience feels like they should feel bad for Valerie but at the same time it is pretty clear that she is not a good person. While a somewhat strange film, I found myself liking I Shot Andy Warhol.
I Shot Andy Warhol is an odd film. Most of the characters are unlikable and the film ends on a very depressing note. However, I still really liked the movie. It was a well told story and I never once felt bored throughout the film. I kept finding myself wondering what is going to happen next that drives Valerie to shoot Andy. This film should be one of the first shown to those people that, sadly, still think women cannot be good directors. I enjoyed this film a lot and would recommend the movie to really anyone who asks for a recommendation.