Andrew’s review published on Letterboxd:
Funny Face is a romantic comedy musical about a young, female philosopher who is thrown into the fashion world quite by accident. In this upbeat movie, Audrey Hepburn plays the young fish out of water and brings her signature charm as she models the hottest new clothes in Paris. However, she's more inclined to discussing philosophy with the different scholars in the city. Despite some stumbles, Funny Face is a good time that left a smile on my face.
The movie begins with Maggie Prescott (Kay Thompson), the head of the biggest woman's fashion magazine, Quality, who wants to find a model that not only accentuates beauty but intellectualism as well. She and her fashion photographer, Dick Avery (Fred Astaire), spots a bookshop that looks "smart" to them. They burst into the philosophy bookshop where Jo Stockton (Audrey Hepbrun) works at. She protests at the intrusion but they end up kicking Jo out of her own bookstore. After the shoot is done, the shop is ruined with books scattered all over the place. Avery stays behind to help her which is the first stepping stone to this romantic relationship. Maggie still hasn't found her ideal model when Avery suggests that Jo could be the model. Avery tells Jo that they want her to be the new face of Paul Duval's (Robert Flemyng) fashion line in Paris. Her idol and the father of empathicalism Professor Emile Flostre (Michel Auclair) teaches in Paris so she agrees to go if she can meet him.
As far as the story goes, I loved nearly every second. It is such a light, upbeat film and even though I only laughed a few times the movie always brought a smile to my face. The musical and dance numbers are really fun, and I feel like the cast was having a blast, especially Audrey who wanted to be a dancer growing up. The only set that I didn't like was the second to last one which uses racist slang and language, which, unfortunately, was par for the course at the time.
One thing that I liked about this film is that, despite Jo being swept up in the fashion and romance, she still holds on to her philosophical beliefs, her favorite being empathicalism. Despite pushback from the people around her, like Avery, she still does not stop believing in the subjects she loves so much. I honestly thought that this aspect of her personality would be dropped so I'm glad that the filmmakers kept that side of her. On a side note, I actually thought empathicalism was a real field of study but it seems that it was made just for the film!
Just like the few others movies that I've seen in her filmography she commands the scene with her beauty and grace. She gives a wonderful performance and I marvel at how she can easily cry on demand. I feel she channels her lack and search for love in her performances, while great, is also heartbreaking at the same time. Good lord, I have the biggest crush on Audrey Hepburn who is now one of my two favorite celebrity crushes the other being Aubrey Plaza. I keep getting their names mixed up. I even spelled Aubrey Hepburn when searching for her movies!
Fred Astaire does such a splendid job in his role as the fashion photographer. He brings a charm to his performance and, while there were moments where Avery treated Jo badly, I felt that he brought a tender side to the character as well. Kay Thompson did a good job as the fashion editor who has a big ego. I do like how she brought some kindness and tenderness underneath the surface of Maggie Prescott.
Like the musical dance number I mentioned earlier, there are some racist stereotypes and blackface used in the film. There are some sexist moments as well between Jo and Avery which, for me, hurt the relationship between them. These are not out of place for that time but it still doesn't mean that I like their decisions.
As far as the technical aspects go the hair, makeup and costume design are top notch. Some of the outfits that Jo gets to wear are stunning and do look like something you'd see in a fashion show.
Despite some missteps with the racist and sexist moments in the movie I enjoyed every second of Funny Face. Even tough I didn't laugh a lot during this romance comedy musical, it would lift my mood up with it's peppy spirit. Both Fred Astaire and Kay Thompson do a wonderful job but it's Audrey Hepburn who once again steals the show. If you are interested in fun upbeat movies or musicals you can't go wrong with this movie. If romantic comedies with song and dance numbers aren't for you, this may be a fun watch but probably change your overall opinion of it. I highly, highly recommend it!!