Monday, 21 May 2012

The Audrey Hepburn Story (5 Stars)

When I started to write this review I gave the the film 4 stars, but as I wrote it I realised just how good it is and upped it to 5. This made-for-television movie is the peak of Jennifer Love Hewitt's career. I can't fault it, neither for its richness of information, nor for its entertainment value. I read many other reviews before writing this, and the majority are negative. They seem to have been written by Audrey Hepburn fans who consider it sacrilege for a "lesser" actress to step into her shoes. This isn't the case with me, so I feel that my review will be less biased.

The film starts with Audrey filming "Breakfast at Tiffany's" and her nerves at not being accepted by director Truman Capote, who had wanted Maralyn Monroe for the role. The rest of the film is shown in flashbacks.

Audrey was born in Belgium in 1929. She had an English father of unclear occupation (in the film, at least) and an aristocratic Austrian mother who called herself a baroness. When she was five her father left to work in London. She didn't meet him again until 1939, when he was arrested in front of her eyes as a Nazi sympathiser.

In 1937 Audrey was sent to a boarding school in England, where she developed a passion for ballet dancing. When the war broke out her mother took her to live in Holland, where she expected they would be safe. For a while Audrey was able to continue her school and her ballet lessons, but when Germany invaded Holland in 1940 they lived in fear. As a young girl Audrey assisted the efforts of the Dutch resistance.

After the war Audrey moved to England, where she continued her ballet lessons, until she was told that she didn't have the natural talent to become a prima ballerina. She became a chorus girl, but she was soon "recognised" and moved to America, first appearing in a Broadway play, "Gigi", then going to Hollywood where her film career took off. The rest of the film shows her film successes, her love affairs and her marriages

Jennifer Love Hewitt portrays Audrey Hepburn as a modest but lively young girl caught up in the whirlwind of a big world that overwhelmed her, whether the things around her were good or bad. She is so likeable and lovable. The film is touching because she's shown as spending all her life in search of her lost father. Is this a true portrayal of Audrey's character? If it is, I love her.

To answer the criticisms of the film. People say that Jennifer doesn't look like Audrey. I've looked at photos, and what are they talking about? The two are very similar. It can't be expected that they could have found an absolutely identical actress. In comparison, look at the many actors who have played Adolf Hitler over the years, everyone from Bruno Ganz to Robert Carlyle. Some look more accurate than others, but none are perfect. Admittedly, Jennifer is bustier than Audrey, but her clothing in the film succeeds in hiding this. Then people criticise that the film ends in 1961, so it doesn't show all the highlights of her career. I admit this is a problem, but the film lasts over three hours already, and they had to stop somewhere.

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