"Life in this society being, at best, an utter bore and no aspect of society being at all relevant to women, there remains to civic-minded, responsible, thrill-seeking females only to overthrow the government, eliminate the money system, institute complete automation and destroy the male sex."

Mary Harron, the writer-director making her feature debut with "I Shot Andy Warhol," certainly ought to be admired for spotting that opening passage from "The S.C.U.M. Manifesto," the cri de coeur of the outraged feminist loner named Valerie Solanas, and finding within it the kernel of a scrappy, vibrant, unexpectedly touching film with a ragtag heroine no audience will easily forget.

I Shot Andy Warhol," another madeleine of a movie that strongly evokes the Factory days, also shows Ms. Harron's enterprise by taking its catchy title from Ms. Solanas's statement to the police. Ms. Solanas's syntax proclaimed her ultra-outlaw status just as surely as if her victim, instead of the exquisitely bored and jaded Pop Art impresario, had been Jesse James.

This film's extraordinary centerpiece is Lili Taylor, giving a great, funny, furiously alive performance that deserves to put her on the mainstream map.  Tough as a teamster yet also oddly, even poignantly naive, she takes no prisoners when it comes to espousing radical theories or cooking up ways to make a buck. She's equally willing to try prostitution or charge a $6 an hour fee for her conversational skills. "Fifteen cents, any dirty word you want," Valerie announces, pitching herself to passers-by on the street. When she finds a taker who pays her to say something dirty, she's got the word ready: "Men.""


(Along with Christine Vachon, I am the producer of this film.)