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64

Generally favorable reviews - based on 38 Critics What's this?

User Score
7.3

Generally favorable reviews- based on 14 Ratings

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  • Starring: ,
  • Summary: A provocative exploration of sexuality, religion and pop culture, The Notorious Bettie Page takes us into the 1950s and the fascinating world of famous pin-up girl, Bettie Page. (Picturehouse)
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 28 out of 38
  2. Negative: 0 out of 38
  1. 88
    Gretchen Mol is finally the key to the mysterious appeal of the film, to its sweetness and sadness.
  2. 75
    The film takes a little time to explore the political landscape of the time, and features an Oscar-worthy lead performance.
  3. 75
    Harron needed just the right actress to play Bettie. And she lucked out big time. Gretchen Mol (The Shape of Things) is hot stuff in every sense of the term. She delivers the first performance by an actress this year that deserves serious Oscar consideration.
  4. 67
    It's less cheesecake than angel-food: frothy, light, and delicious, sure, but two hours later you're ready for something slightly more substantive.
  5. In the odd, and oddly compelling, biopic The Notorious Bettie Page, Gretchen Mol is a delight as the saucy brunette.
  6. Anyone expecting another dark satiric film in the same vein of Harron's earlier movies will be disappointed. Perhaps as befits a bondage-themed picture, The Notorious Bettie Page is very restrained, even a little starchy.
  7. In spite of the film's surface allure -- no, not the leather, the period evocation -- and a fine performance by Gretchen Mol in the title role, Bettie is in bondage to a shallow, black-and-white script.

See all 38 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 4 out of 7
  2. Negative: 0 out of 7
  1. Feb 9, 2012
    5
    The Notorious Bettie Page, a biopic of the infamous pin-up icon, is a mildly entertaining romp through Page's early life and modelling career. Gretchen Mol is spot-on as Page, she looks the part and perfectly captures her iconic poses. Jared Harris is also good as seedy British photographer John Willie, as is David Strathairn as Estes Kefauver as a senator investigating the negative impact of pornography on the American people. I also like the stylistic decision to film partially in black-and-white and partially in garish technicolor - it works really well in terms of setting the tone of particular scenes, with Page's formative years and earlier modelling experiences presented with a nostalgic, classic Hollywood appearance, and her celebrity lifestyle in Miami and her most iconic magazine covers presented as garish, striking splashes of colour. Unfortunately, the film does not seem to say an awful lot about anything, beyond a meagre attempt to discuss the morality of nude photography and censorship. A lot of the film, in fact, seems to simply be providing something to fill the space between the softcore thrills. I also feel that the story comes to an end just when it starts to get really interesting. I would love to see a film adaptation of Page's later life, a far darker and more complex period that would offer genuine scope for real drama. That's the main disappointment about The Notorious Bettie Page, for a story of such a controversial figure, the film comes across as a little tame. Director Mary Harron and her co-writer Guinevere Turner could have been so much braver and really gotten behind Bettie Page's motivations, and her seemingly contradictory moral code. As it is, the film is pleasant, but a little limp and uninspiring. I don't begrudge watching such a competent film, but I never felt I got to understand Bettie Page, so as a biopic, it ultimately fails. Expand

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