Dir: Mary Harron, 2005, USA (91 mins)
Gretchen Mol, Chris Bauer, Lili Taylor
When profiling this 50’s S&M pin-up it would have been easy to slip into a kitsch homage that further objectified the woman behind the images. Thankfully The Notorious Bettie Page isn’t guilty of this, but neither does it unveil the fascinating psyche, which should be ripe for examination. Instead the films hits limbo. All we discover is that Page was actually, well, quite nice.
Dealt a rotten hand by various men in her life, Page hits the modelling circuit with an optimism borne of her church upbringing and we discover that many of the people producing the photographs were polite and fair, with only the kinky clientele coming in for vilification. But while the film is witty and affectionate in its period detail, there is little to explain why Page’s image has been reclaimed by young women in recent years. As biopics go, it’s a puzzler.