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Ask any Audrey Hepburn fan what they love most about her, and also you’ll get quite a lot of responses: her plain magnificence and imitable fashion. Her magnetic presence on movie. Her girl-next-door enchantment. For thus a lot of her followers, particularly girls, she wasn’t only a glamorous film star and humanitarian—she was the embodiment of perfection. However in Audrey, director Helena Coan’s enthralling new documentary, the late famous person’s flawless veneer gently drops away to disclose one thing much more stirring: authenticity.
“Success could be very a lot within the eye of the beholder,” Hepburn says within the movie, her phrases culled from interviews and media appearances all through her lifetime. It is an intimate element nestled on the middle of a 100-minute narrative in regards to the lady behind the superstar, somebody whose picture of herself was a lot much less complicated than how others perceived her. That includes commentary from fellow actors and filmmakers together with Richard Dreyfuss and Peter Bogdanovich, in addition to household and shut associates who study her affect in style and cinema, Audrey primarily tells Hepburn’s story in her personal phrases—and so they’re typically in distinction to her legacy.
For example, her affinity for designer garments immortalized in motion pictures comparable to Breakfast at Tiffany’s (like that attractive black Givenchy column robe she wears within the opening credit) was typically a masks for her insecurities that stemmed, partially, from feeling like an outsider in Hollywood. “Garments all the time give me an excessive amount of self-confidence,” Hepburn says.
With reflections on her childhood rising up throughout Belgium, England, and the Netherlands amid the horrors of World Warfare II, Coan depicts a lady who as soon as almost starved from lack of meals. When the teenager began making somewhat cash by way of her old flame, dancing, in Amsterdam, French novelist Colette plucked her from digital obscurity to play the titular function in Broadway’s Gigi. That main half, alongside together with her astonishing charisma in entrance of an viewers, catapulted the considerably shy Hepburn to superstardom within the 1950s and ‘60s—and gave her a complete new complicated about herself.
“After all, you’ll really feel strain when you come onto the scene fully new,” Lauren Conlin, a longtime Hepburn fan and host of the leisure podcast Crimson Carpet Rendezvous, tells ELLE.com. “All you needed was to be a ballet dancer, and hastily, you are onscreen and on Broadway. You’re feeling the strain to be excellent in each approach and need everybody to love you and need to work with you.”
This was solely exacerbated by Hepburn’s legions of followers, who to this present day emulate her fashion and fawn over her legacy. “She appears to be like so fabulous and trendy on that iconic Breakfast at Tiffany’s poster,” Conlin says, recalling her introduction to Hepburn as a toddler. “It was like each little woman needed to be her.”
However as Audrey exhibits, lasting admiration from across the globe couldn’t counteract how the actress felt about herself. “I used to be all the time self-conscious,” she admits, including that, together with success, “magnificence is within the eye of the beholder. That is one thing I can’t see. I see the issues after I rise up within the morning.” She rattles off all of the issues that needs she had: smaller ft (she wore measurement 10½), a curvier determine (à la the equally idolized Marilyn Monroe), and blonde hair.
These small however necessary self-reflections not solely present a extra sincere portrayal of a girl whose public picture almost eclipsed who she actually was, however additionally they crack the inflexible mould of aspiration with which Hepburn is commonly aligned. Not in a contrived, “celebrities—they’re identical to us!” type of approach, however slightly a portrait of what it’s wish to be a girl in any period, preventing an limitless battle of who we’re versus how the world sees us. Throughout Hepburn’s time, her picture was difficult by the notion of ladies as wives and homemakers—not the pleasant hodgepodge of feminine characters she embodied, from a intercourse employee in Breakfast at Tiffany’s to a childless widow who sweeps Cary Grant off his ft in Charade.
Due to these roles, girls needed to be Hepburn and males needed to be together with her. However in actuality, she was unfortunate in romance, having divorced twice: first from Mel Ferrer, then Andrea Dotti, who was photographed dishonest on her many instances. Audrey ponders how the actress’s father abandoning his household when she was a toddler may’ve propelled her to seek for love from males in her grownup life, nevertheless it’s additionally attainable she unwittingly succumbed to the romantic fantasy that got here together with her superstar—and was heartbroken when she realized it wasn’t true.
As non-public as Hepburn may very well be, she appeared to know the connection she had together with her followers and tried to be as candid as attainable about her experiences, together with her “traumatic” miscarriages, in interviews: “You hope that issues will come again collectively once more, nevertheless it wasn’t all the time true,” she says.
It ought to come as much less of a shock than it did that Hepburn took a break from the highlight on the peak of her profession following her 1967 movie Wait Till Darkish. As a lot as she loved what she did for a residing—“I’m a really fortunate woman,” she proclaims in Audrey—the love she had for her household outdated that. Hepburn had one son with every of her husbands, and with motherhood got here a confidence she by no means needed to feign as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador in her later years. “I’m [traveling] world wide once more, however I like to do it,” she says throughout a media look captured within the documentary.
Hepburn confronted challenges each in entrance of and away from the digital camera, and Audrey exhibits she’s an icon not as a result of she’s the archetype of what each lady ought to be. Moderately, regardless of her overwhelming success and private struggles, she remained her truest self—and gave again to the world round her. We’re all able to that.
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