Offbeat, pensive, hypnotic drama about bitterness, revenge.
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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Funny Face is a downbeat crime drama about an anti-social man (Cosmo Jarvis) -- who wears a creepy, grinning mask -- and a runaway woman (Dela Meskienyar) who plot revenge against a wealthy developer. There's one long, graphic scene in which three fully naked women kiss and sexually caress one another as a man watches. Violent moments involve punching, threats (both verbal and with a knife blade), eggs used as projectiles, and arguing. A man lies on the floor, and the movie never says whether he's passed out or dead; there's some dialogue about death. Language is quite strong, with several uses of "f--k," "s--t," and angry exclamations of "Jesus Christ." Characters drink socially and in the background, and there's a reference to "buying weed." This is an unusual, slow, pensive drama, but it's worth seeking out for mature, adventurous viewers.
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What's the Story?
In FUNNY FACE, Saul (Cosmo Jarvis) is an anti-social man who regularly listens to New York Knicks games and is seething with rage over the fact that his grandparents' building is being sold and turned into a parking lot. One day, a strange, creepily grinning mask appears, and he starts wearing it everywhere. In a convenience store, a young woman named Zama (Dela Meskienyar), who's on the run from her strict aunt and uncle, is caught shoplifting. A masked Saul saves her and pays for her things, and they become friends. They steal a car and start living on the streets. At the same time, Saul begins hatching a plan against the developer (Jonny Lee Miller) who's upsetting his grandparents' lives.
Is It Any Good?
Like a gloomier Joker at a fraction of the budget and half the speed, this unusual, pensive drama tells an eerily quiet and hypnotically effective story. Written and directed by Tim Sutton, Funny Face has a totally assured vision of a completely insulated and static New York, a place where things seem stuck and beauty is rare. Yet while the story lopes along in unmoving blocks, beauty does emerge. Saul has a favorite rooftop spot where he can sit and watch Coney Island, Zama goes shopping for a bright yellow hijab, and there's a dream of James Dean. Food is important, too, as when the couple devours gooey slices of pizza or delicious deli pickles.
Funny Face occasionally gives us glimpses of its villains: wealthy, elite people (played by fine actors like Jeremy Bobb and Victor Garber) who speak in devilish tones in dim rooms, as if money were their blood. They're totally disconnected from the outside world. And Saul's mask -- which appears out of nowhere -- is simply and brilliantly designed, coaxing deep unease with its sinister grin. To be sure, the movie progresses at such a low murmur that when Jarvis has his big moment, maniacally and feverishly trying to explain his devotion to the Knicks, it may seem like one of the greatest performances you've ever seen. Also great are Dan Hedaya and Rhea Perlman in just a couple of scenes as Saul's grandparents.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about Funny Face's violence. How did it leave you feeling? Can a threat be violent in itself? How so?
How is sex viewed here? What values are imparted? Are the participants on equal footing? Why, or why not?
What's the appeal of revenge? What does revenge accomplish in the end?
How does the movie treat cultures other than the characters' own? Is there judgment? Understanding? Are stereotypes used?
- In theaters: April 2, 2021
- On DVD or streaming: April 2, 2021
- Cast: Cosmo Jarvis, Dela Meskienyar, Jonny Lee Miller
- Director: Tim Sutton
- Studio: Gravitas Ventures
- Genre: Drama
- Run time: 95 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Last updated: December 7, 2022
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