Audrey

Audrey ★★★★½

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

Very moving documentary of Audrey Hepburn's life, with, refreshingly, more emphasis on Audrey the person. Not that I wasn't interested in her career but I was very interested in learning things that I didn't know about her life. I didn't know that she had started off with aspirations to be a ballerina but the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands where she lived put that off for five years till the Allied liberation. When she tried again, she was doing good but she and her teacher came to the realization that the five years spent away from dancing had put her too far behind. Although crushed, she went on to be in several small roles in films before being in the Broadway play, Gigi, which was based on the novella by Colette, the French author, and Audrey was in fact handpicked by Colette to play Gigi in the play. It was an enormous success. There had been a French film version two years before but this was the first America had experienced it. This I didn't know either about Audrey.

Coming off of her success on Broadway, she screen tested for the lead role in Roman Holiday which of course she got and won Best Actress for. The doc goes on to cover a few of her film outings, but anyone looking for a thorough overview of most of her catalog will be disappointed. This covers her two marriages, one to actor Mel Ferrer, which ended in divorce after she gave birth to one child, Sean, who is interviewed here.

There are interviews with critics, a director, a photographer, all of whom knew her, but mostly family and friends, who are the people who were closest to her. Her life is portrayed as somewhat tragic, given her aloof mother, her absent father, her time during WWII, her two failed marriages (both of which resulted in sons that she loved dearly), a miscarriage, and the endless presence of the paparazzi (even when she moved to Italy for her second marriage).

But she found love again in the twilight of her life with Robert Wolders, a Dutch TV actor who was the widower of the late actress Merle Oberon. In fact, they met when he was auctioning off Oberon's jewelry for charity. They never married but who could blame Audrey?

For me, the greatest part of the documentary is the final third which covers her work with UNICEF, bringing worldwide attention to starvation and disease in foreign countries, especially among children, and raising millions for that cause. This involved Audrey traveling extensively to those countries to actually witness the poor conditions but also bringing a bit of a smile to the faces of lots of those children. As a person who was nearing starvation at a young age and who was relieved when UNICEF and the Red Cross showed up and provided food for families in the Netherlands, Audrey really didn't hesitate to jump in when UNICEF asked for her. The film takes us up to her death but it is not a depressing film for me because she was always upbeat, even in her loneliness. She lives on in her films but her biggest legacy to me, is the UNICEF work. This documentary film is a must for even a casual fan.

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