For all my love for the arts, I am notoriously (deliberately?) stupid at interpreting musicals. Recently, I watched the musical Funny Face, which is based on the notion that Audrey Hepburn has a “funny” face. Thus the title. I assume that in the 1950’s, “funny” meant “gorgeous.” There is absolutely no other way I can make sense of telling Audrey Hepburn she looks odd.
We begin with some kind of fashion lady who wants everyone to dress in pink because…the Red Scare, I’m assuming. As our metaphor for McCarthyism continues, the fashion people and their photographer (Fred Astaire) interrupt a quiet intellectual at a bookstore (Hepburn) in order take photos for their fashion magazine. Knowledge, you see, is the ultimate cure for fear mongering and political acts of force. Also, dressing Audrey Hepburn in a burlap sack is somehow supposed to convince the audience that she isn’t incredibly, effortlessly beautiful.
Anyway, Fred Astaire is busy not dancing and he falls for the mousy, ugly, stuffy intellectual played by Hepburn. She rattles off more than one philosophy that has never existed in the history of all thought, including her favorite: empathaticalism, or whatever, the philosophy of feeling things and sounding like a jackass. But really, she needs a good kiss.
They then travel to Paris in order to take photos of Audrey Hepburn and her “funny” face, and also to illustrate how fundamental American democracy is for the maintenance of European stability after the Great War. The complex musical narrative expresses its dual intention when they go visit the cantina on Tatooine from Star Wars. Audrey Hepburn dances around like a spastic Luke Skywalker after too much blue milk. It’s full of meaning. Drunken meaning.
They run around some more, dancing and singing and forcing Audrey Hepburn to wear very strange outfits. I’m not really up on the style of the time, but in general it seems to involve dressing women in clothing that guarantees they will never be able to escape a burning building alive. It all looks rather flammable and constricting. May as well light Audrey Hepburn on fire now and get it over with. Also, every single French person wandering by wears a beret. Just like in real life.
As our story continues, Astaire and Hepburn fall for one another. Because we shouldn’t overly determine political action without founding it on love.
Then they get in a knife fight.
After a brief trip to the hospital – or airport, maybe, I don’t know – they all decide that they should learn some real philosophy, so they all study Thomas Aquinas. Who definitely has a funny face. THE END.