I already enjoyed Audrey Hepburn movies before being locked in the house. But now that I have nowhere to go, I find that I’m turning to Hepburn more for my entertainment. As life continues at a snail’s pace, I find comfort in her films, which are not only sensational, but also capture small sources of joy and self-growth. There’s something soothing about the lack of special effects or even sweeping film scores in old cinema. These films are the equivalent of curling up with a well-worn paperback on a rainy day.
Stream on: Amazon Prime
When most people think of classic Audrey Hepburn movies, Roman Holiday and Breakfast at Tiffany’s are the first that come to mind. But Funny Face has enough charm to hold its own ground. Hepburn plays Jo Stockton, an employee at a used bookshop who gets offered a modeling gig for a fashion magazine. Jo holds a bit of disdain for dressing up and considers a sense of fashion and intelligence to be mutually exclusive. Still, she accepts the offer because it involves a trip to Paris, where she wants to meet a professor she admires. Ultimately, this film is about Jo coming into herself and discovering that she can enjoy dressing up and posing for the camera while staying true to the person she always was.
I love this movie because it slightly mirrors my journey coming to college. In high school, I definitely didn’t know how to balance my studies with doing things simply because they made me happy. Watching this movie, I reminisced on my own transformation on campus. I think it helped me process some of the difficult emotions around leaving Evanston behind for this quarter.
In case I haven’t convinced you yet, this movie features film photography, turtlenecks, used bookstores, empathicalism, fashion magazines and an Audrey Hepburn tap dance scene, so you know it’s going to be a good one.
Stream on: Amazon Prime
In Roman Holiday, Audrey Hepburn plays the fictional Princess Ann, who’s on tour across Europe for diplomatic purposes. At the beginning of the film, Ann has a breakdown because of the strain of her duties and sneaks out into the city in civilian clothing. There, she comes across Gregory Peck’s character, Joe Bradley, a journalist who was supposed to report on Ann’s press briefing the day she disappeared from the palace. Bradley befriends Ann, and they spend a day doing all the things Ann’s always wanted to do. But Bradley’s intentions are not so pure. He plans to find Ann’s deepest secrets and sell them to the press for good money. This is a romance though, so clearly, things don’t go according to plan.
This is a classic for a reason, folks! The characters have such distinct personalities. Joe Bradley is hilarious. I love that his morally grey actions morally don’t ruin his soft heart. Princess Ann has a strong moral compass and doesn’t hesitate to tell off those who think they know what’s best for her. The whole movie was also filmed in Rome, so, combined with the costume design, it provides a resplendent viewing experience.
This movie was already one of my favorites, but I’ve been enjoying it even more in quarantine. Ann is excited to be able to window shop, eat ice cream and dance on the docks. It’s a movie about the little pleasures, and it reminds me that there were so many things I took for granted that I would now give anything to do. It also includes a dramatic haircut, which I’m sure many of us can relate to right now.
Stream on: Amazon Prime
In this romantic comedy mystery (yes, this film can do it all), Audrey Hepburn plays Regina Lambert, a woman who goes on a ski trip to commemorate her impending divorce and falls for the dashing Peter Joshua, played by Cary Grant. When Regina turns back to her home in Paris, she finds that her husband, Charles, was murdered. Regina is contacted by the CIA , who tells her that Charles was involved in a heist with three of his World War II cronies. Someone killed Charles for the $250,000 the quartet stole, but who? No one even knows where it is. It’s suspected that the money last ended up with Charles, so now, it’s thought to be under Regina’s possession, putting her at risk. Meanwhile, Peter Joshua returns and vows to protect Regina, but how does she know she can trust him?
This movie was incredible. Released in 1963, it has a different feel from Roman Holiday and Funny Face, which were both filmed in the 50s. Namely, it doesn’t take itself as seriously. The humor in this movie is just plain goofy, but it’s presented in the best way possible! Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn have incredible chemistry. Though the twist ending is predictable to modern viewers, I still felt glued to the screen as the plot unfurled. I was initially skeptical about an Audrey Hepburn mystery, since this is a complete 180 from the Hepburn movies I usually watch. But with all the charm Hepburn brings to the screen, it ended up being a solid mystery. Plus, it also comes with fun 60s fashion.
There’s so much going on here that’s all exquisitely done. It’s the perfect thing to watch in quarantine if you want some escapism!
Bonus: One movie to avoid streaming during quarantine
Love in the Afternoon
(Don't) Stream on: Xfinity or Hulu
Audrey Hepburn plays Ariane Chavasse, a young cello student and the daughter of a private investigator. When Ariane’s father reveals to a client that his wife is having an affair with an American playboy, Frank Flannigan (Gary Cooper), the client vows to murder Flannigan. Ariane throws off the plan and saves Flannigan. Then, Ariane and Flannigan start sleeping together, and Ariane falls in love. But she’s also insecure about the number of women Flannigan’s slept with— she’s still a student, and he was her first time. In order to make Flannigan jealous and realize he’s also in love with her, Ariane invents a slew of suitors to name-drop during conversation with Flannigan.
This movie masquerades power imbalance as romance. Ariane is still a student (it’s not specified whether she’s in high school or in college), and Frank is a middle-aged veteran playboy. The movie writes off how unsettling this pairing is with the assertion that the couple is in love, despite the fact that it took a string of lies from Ariane for Frank to suddenly drop the lifestyle he’s clung onto for years. Not to mention, Ariane’s friend from cello school is clearly in love with her, and his plotline is left in the dust. Frank ends up whisking Ariane away to America, so I’m assuming she doesn’t even get to complete her education before they get married. Everything about this was upsetting.
Even if we’re not talking about its problematic plot, Love in the Afternoon was just slower than other Hepburn movies. It didn’t have as much humor or fleshed out characters for the audience to be hooked.
I also found that this was not a comforting quarantine watch in the slightest. Ariane lives with her father while she goes on all these escapades, which only serves to highlight her youth and naivety, something that being in my childhood room 24/7 is already doing to me.
That's about it! If you’re feeling at all like this right now…
maybe streaming Hepburn will at least transport you to a world of comfort and ease.