Funny Face (1957)

Funny Face (1957)

  • Score: 3/5
  • Genre: 3/5
  • Did I enjoy it: Mostly.
  • Did it move me: A little.
  • Rewatch: Once is enough, but could.
  • Art/Pop: Mostly Pop
  • Noteworthy/Significant: Nothing I am aware of or saw.

Funny Face is a perfectly serviceable Musical / Romantic comedy of the old school. A very obviously aging Fred Astaire and a young Audrey Hepburn make a bit of an odd couple even from the early scenes (she was actually in her late 20s, but looks much younger in the film). However, they are both professionals who get on with it well enough. Kay Thompson does a great job as the diva magazine editor, decades before The Devil Wears Prada and its ilk.

The thing that gets me with films of this era is the level of thought and detail that goes into shot composition, color scheme of walls, costumes, props, and movement. It is sometimes in little things: walking through Paris, Fred & Audrey stop by a wall to talk and there is a large red and white poster which subtly echoes the white with red-accent-under-the-collar coat that Fred is wearing. It is just a small, easily missed detail, but I’m sure someone planned it, and I appreciated it. There are many scenes of talking where the composition of the bodies and the faces against a background follows traditional principles and is soothing and pleasing. There is a place in the world for the modern ADHD driven obsession with having “authentic” settings, and  perspective and camera changes every 17.2 milliseconds, but watching films like this makes you remember that once filmmakers saw films also as a series of exquisite paintings. Don’t get me wrong, the work in Funny Face is not quite that good, but the thought is there, all right.

The music is fine but not outstanding; the limited use of Gershwin music just seems patched on and somewhat out of place, as if they ran out of material and needed something recognizable for marketing purposes. The dancing is good but not great, with the possible exception of a scene in a dark Jazz bar where Hepburn does a fun routine. I also like the proto-Emo look of many people here and at the later scene in the philosopher’s house. Paris is beautiful, what little we see of it, and there are lots of great nostalgia moments with TWA prop airplanes and funny French cars.

If you are looking for a film to introduce a modern or more casual movie watcher to this genre, Funny Face would not be my top pick (Singing in the Rain probably would), but it is at worse inoffensive, and the small handful of quality moments between Audrey & Fred, and the energized nod-and-a-wink performance of Kay Thompson (who was the standout here) make it worth a viewing.

Review Date: 06/28/2019

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