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by Willie Waffle

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The Notorious Bettie Page

Gretchen Mol stars in the true life story of Bettie Page - the 1950's hottest pin up babe and star of what was considered scandalous, perverse, pornographic photography (today, this stuff could be shown on Nickelodeon and no one would raise an eyebrow). We follow her early life as a religious girl in Nashville, her move to New York where she became an underground star, and what happens when Senator Estes Kefauver (David Strathairn) uses the power of the government to go after Bettie and those involved in this photography underworld.

Bettie Page is a familiar icon to many generations of men and women, and might be the sexiest woman in American history, but The Notorious Bettie Page doesn't give us any more insight into her life than the voiceless, glossy photos we have seen time and time again. It's a tame, sterile story about a sexy, vivacious woman because writer/director Mary Harron never delves deeply into Bettie's life or discovers some dramatic revelation. The audience is kept at a distance from Bettie, always seeing her posing and playing for the camera, which is something we have already seen, but never hearing any dialogue that would make us understand who she is and what she was thinking through all of it. No major storyline emerges to tie it all together, so we wander aimlessly from moment to moment with no major drama drawing us in and never feeling any sense of urgency, even as the Feds are moving in and threatening Bettie's career.

Mol does what she can to make Bettie interesting, but the material is not there to flesh out the character.

1 Waffle (Out Of 4)

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