Funny Face is a great name for a breezy comedy or heartsick rom-com. Just ask Audrey Hepburn. While Tim Sutton’s 2021 film shares the same name and includes a love story, there is little joy to find in it. The story is about an outsider named Saul (Cosmo Jarvis) and a Muslim woman named Zama (Dela Meskienyar). Both are frustrated for different reasons and bond through their shared anger.
New York City with its five boroughs could be considered another character in the film. Arguably, it is the most important. Saul’s grandparents have been evicted to make room for shiny new apartments. The theme of gentrification and how it is changing New York is a big part of Funny Face.
The City That Never Sleeps is shot with a loving hand. The film was done on location and every shot seems to give each locale its own personality. Funny Face does a great job of making New York look like a caring friend or a heartless enemy as needed.
This is especially important since there is not much depth to the rest of the characters. Saul has something of a character arc that interesting to watch at times. He starts off as angry and as the film progresses, a greater undercurrent of violence is added. There is a constant sense that he needs to do something but he does not know what it is. Nonetheless, it is little more than from angry to angrier.
Zama and the nameless antagonist (Johnny Lee Miller) do not fare as well, however. The two serve as little more than stand ins for the haves and have nots. While this does not take from away from the mood Sutton has created, it is hard to ignore the feeling that deeper characterizations would have made Funny Face a stand out in the pantheon of New York movies.
Funny Face comes to theater April 2
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