Review by Camden Ferrell
Funny Face is the newest film from writer/director Tim Sutton. It had its premiere at the 2020 Berlin International Film Festival. This is a movie that seems more promising in theory but fails to justify itself in practice due to a messy and convoluted plot.
Zama is a young Muslim woman, jaded with her situation and desiring a new life. Saul is a troubled man who wears a mask, like a makeshift superhero, in an act of revenge against real estate developers who wronged his family. Together, they form an unlikely bond as they take on the city and the system they wish to rage against. This is a premise that has the potential to say a lot about the modern plight of Americans, but it fails to amount to anything substantial.
The script, written by Sutton, is a narrative mess. It has lots of great themes and ideas, but it fails to juggle them, and it leads to some confusing and questionable narrative choices that distract from the message of the film. The dialogue is bland, and it fails to truly explore the intricacies of its premise.
The acting in this film is a relatively bright spot in this film. Dela Meskienyar gives a decent performance as Zama, and she’s fairly charming even if her performance isn’t anything revelatory. The best part of this film comes from Cosmo Jarvis’ performance as Saul. He isn’t perfect, but he does capture the emotions of troubled young adults in this unforgiving world.
The main problem with the film comes from its multiple storylines and how it fails to make the transitions cohesive. While they are undoubtedly related in both theme and circumstance, the movie muddles the stories, and fails to properly tell a coherent story. Rather than building each other up, the storylines work against each other and make the film more disorganized as a result.
The film has some decent cinematography and some great music throughout, but it doesn’t compensate for the lack of direction on screen. It tries its hardest to generate tension and create realistic stakes for its protagonists, and it falls flat more times than not, and it leaves the viewer feeling underwhelmed by the end.
Despite its flaws, it’s clear that Sutton has a clear vision and strong themes that aren’t executed properly. He knows what he wants to say, but this film has trouble saying it effectively and efficiently. It’s a story that could have resonated with so many in this uncertain world, and the angst in the film is universal. Unfortunately, it’s all drowned out by the messiness of the narrative.
Funny Face is not the biting take on the modern world that it could have been. It’s uneven, inconsistent, and convoluted. The acting and technical aspects are decent, but the rest of the film sadly doesn’t amount to much.
Funny Face is available on VOD April 2.