AUDREY – Review by Carol Cling

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Audrey Hepburn never realized her heart’s desire. Lucky for us.

She wanted, more than anything, to be a ballerina. But the desperate struggle to survive World War II in the Nazi-occupied Netherlands precluded that.

Instead, she became a beloved silver-screen legend, back in the days when the people who lit up those silver screens truly were legends.

The new documentary Audrey chronicles Hepburn’s familiar public life — and her less familiar personal history — in engaging fashion.

Hepburn’s own recollections (recorded a year before she died of cancer at 63) accompany much of the story. On-camera interviews with a variety of Hepburn experts — notably Sean Hepburn Ferrer, her son with first husband Mel Ferrer — offer additional insights.

Vintage photographs and film clips capture the captivating Hepburn at various stages of her showbiz life, from British comedies to Broadway, then Hollywood — and beyond.

And, of course, there’s a sampling (not nearly as generous as it should be) of some of Hepburn’s greatest cinematic hits, starting with her Oscar-winning Hollywood debut, 1953’s Roman Holiday.

All that would seem more than enough for a memorable documentary. Alas, writer-director Audrey Hepburn never realized her heart’s desire. Lucky for us.

She wanted, more than anything, to be a ballerina. But the desperate struggle to survive World War II in the Nazi-occupied Netherlands precluded that.

Instead, she became a beloved silver-screen legend, back in the days when the people who lit up those silver screens truly were legends.

The new documentary Audrey chronicles Hepburn’s familiar public life — and her less familiar personal history — in engaging fashion. can’t leave well enough alone.

Disregarding the less-is-more style Hepburn herself embodied in her memorable collaborations with couturier Hubert de Givenchy, Coan intersperses the movie’s documentary elements with staged dance interludes that depict Hepburn at three stages in her life.

These sequences disrupt the narrative flow. Even worse, they add an artsy, artificial veneer that’s at odds with Hepburn’s own easy elegance.

That ineffable, indelible quality is amply illustrated by clips from such Hepburn favorites as Sabrina, Funny Face and, inevitably, Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

In the latter, Hepburn found her signature role as Holly Golightly, whom she described to an interviewer as “a kook … a dizzy, gay type of girl,” before admitting “I’m not quite that way, no.”

Not with a life marked by her parents’ divorce (and her father’s disappearance from her life) when she was 6, the horrors of war — and more.

It took some time for Hepburn to find, in real life, the happy endings she enjoyed on screen. As Audrey makes clear, it was her own doing.

She quotes another survivor of difficult beginnings, piano virtuoso Arthur Rubinstein, who “had to decide whether to reject life or to love it, and he said, ‘I just decided to love it unconditionally.’ I believe that.”

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Carol Cling

Carol Cling

Carol Cling served as the Las Vegas Review-Journal's film critic for more than 30 years, reviewing movies and covering movie and TV production in Las Vegas, from Casino to CSI. An honors graduate of Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism, she also has studied film at the American Film Institute and the BBC