The Notorious Bettie Page Reviews
Bettie Page was groundbreaking without realizing it. This film captures her innocent sweetness and unknowing naughty sexuality. While Page, with Irving Klaw and other photograthers, was groundbreaking, this film is not. It places her at the onset of the sexual revolution yet does not expound on that in any way. Its a straightforward story, not an in-depth sociological study.
It's a really well-meaning, but ultimately shallow film, and that's unfortunate. I liked that the film was rather classy, and kept from being too raunchy and exploitative, but at the same time, it feels a little safe, and they probably could have been edgier but still kept it pretty tasteless. I think a lot of the reasons for why the film falls short is that it really doesn't take risks, and has a pretty sketchy script. The film doesn't really give a lot of insights into the characters, it really skirts around some important aspects of her past (like an abusive marriage, childhood abuse, and a gang rape), and fails to incorporate these things into how they affected Page's later life. There's also not much of a character arc either, so the fact that she gives her career up to become a born again Christian seems far more striking than it should. The film shows how Bettie was clearly religious, even when she did risque modeling, but doesn't really provide a strong answer for why she gave it up.
With that out of the way, I can get to the praises I have. The costumes, set design, art direction, and cinematography are absolutely brilliant. The era really comes alive in super faithful recreations. It's shot in gorgeous black and white, with some selective use of color that's been altered to make it too appear as if it's from the time period. Best of all has to be the wonderful recreations of the famous photos and video clips. The DVD features include a short film of the actual Bettie, and it is amazing how accurate the film captured her and the era.
Of course, a major part of that success has to do with the casting and acting. Gretchen Mol is Page, and she is absolutely wonderful, and this is probably going to be her career defining role, and that'd be just fine. She perfectly captures Bettie's warmth, sweetness, sassiness, and naivete (indeed, the real Page never saw what she did as bad, and always treated the shoots, especially the bondage stuff, as just silly fun and make believe). She has the look down pat, and is the real reason to see the film, even if it isn't an overall success. The rest of the cast is decent, though overshadowed by Mol. My favorites have to be Chris Bauer and Lili Taylor as brother and sister duo Irving and Paula Klaw- the respectable business owners who did fetish shoots on the side. Cara Seymour is likewise good as fellow model Maxie, but in the end, this is truly Mol's movie.
I did enjoy the movie, despite it's clear flaws and shortcomings. It does a lot of great things, even though it ultimately fails to totally satisfy. I sort of recommend it, if only for Mol and the technical stuff.
The movie is awesome they give bettie a voce and this by far is one of my favourite movie and should not be missed it's a good period peace and has a awesome cast
Well worth a look, recommended.