Notorious Bettie Page, The

MPAA Rating: R

Entertainment: +1

Content: -4

With varying degrees of success, writer/director Mary Harron (I Shot Andy Warhol, American Psycho) explores sexuality, religion and pop culture in this frisky bio-pic of iconic 1950s pin-up girl Bettie Page. Aided by Gretchen Mols compelling, award-worthy performance, Ms. Harron establishes the mood and mores of the 50s, catching the atmosphere and look, brilliantly. But while the films structure is solid, the tone is mixed, the production switching from light-hearted to heavy without truly capturing the insidiousness of that industry.

The script is weak at showing how pornography first takes hold and how, step by step, its tentacles wrap around both the supplier and the consumer. The filmmakers also fail to forthrightly reveal its central characters motivations. It is implied that Bettie was abused by her father, trapped in an abusive marriage, then threatened with gang rape, yet during follow up scenes shes happy-go-lucky and unguarded.

According to the movie, Bettie eventually realizes that God doesnt want her associated with that world. She goes back to church, accepts Christ as her Savior and dedicates her life to serving Him. Or so we are led to believe. What the real B.P. is doing, we dont know. (A private person, the elderly Page had no association with the film.) The truth is Ms. Page was married several times and spent years in a mental hospital. She had deep-seated problems, none of which are treated with much depth in this production.

The film delves into psychological revelations only on the shallowest of terms, leaving the viewer with an entertaining movie, but one that takes no sides, and gives no explanations. Pornography and pornographers suggest that erotic material gives the customer something. In truth, it takes. It ruins lives, marriages and standards of social behavior. The Notorious Bettie Page doesnt make that its theme. It doesnt attack nor defend supporters or detractors of pornography. It takes no clear stand.

Despite its shallowness, there may be a positive to the production. Who knows, perhaps some porn actresses may see this film and come to the realization that there is a better way for them. Maybe it will even give them the courage to turn from the world of eroticism to that of the spiritual. Hopefully, some male viewers will see how pornography begins innocently enough, then traps not just the id, but the soul. That said, I dont believe a person attempting to develop a spiritual walk should view this picture thinking they will become more understanding of porns draw.

My video alternative: The Apostle. This perceptive drama, written, directed and starring Robert Duvall, never condescends, nor is it antagonistic toward people of faith while telling its story of a good but imperfect mans redemption.

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: Some lewd comments are made by a photographer, but Betty chastises him for the offense. There are four or five slang terms for the sex act and in describing body parts.

Obscene Language: 1F-wrd, 1 S-wrd, several minor expletives such as hell and damn.

Profanity: 2 Gds

Violence: Betty is slapped by her husband, threatened with rape and used by opportunistic pornographers, which is a form of mental violence

Sex: There are many scenes featuring modeling, some include full-on female nudity; bondage and other fetishes are portrayed this imagery may be perceived as erotic.

Nudity: Three or more scenes feature topless nudity and one scene has explicit full-on female nudity.

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: There are several conversations that include sexuality.

Drugs: Some drinking, though the main character only drinks wine in one scene.

Other: None

Running Time: 91 minutes
Intended Audience: Adults

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