Funny Face is not a funny film. Nor is it a vigilante film about a masked marauder like Joker…though the protagonist does behave as though he has watched Joaquin Phoenix in Joker in a loop. But Saul (Cosmo Jarvis), hard as he tries, is no Joker. He is way too ordinary to be extraordinarily ordinary.
Saul spends his time obsessing over getting even with a builder who threatens to destroy his grandparents’ home The builder billed in the credits as the Developer (played by Johnny Lee Miller) is a sinewy figure of evil indulging in a sleazy sex orgy with 6-7 naked girls slithering around him.
The Developer is imagined as a kind of uni-dimensional psycho rampaging in the concrete jungle. There is the character of his father (Victor Garber). When the father and son meet their exchange sounds like a sales pitch for old world values as opposed to the ruthless plundering of the current generations.
I don’t know if the tone is deliberately cartoonish. But the whole film wears an air of a grim cartoon-stripping. Nowhere is this more evident than in the central relationship between Saul and his unlikely companion, a hijab-wearing young woman named Zama (Dela Meskienyar) who is not all there. We are given to understand that Zama has lost her parents and her uncle and aunt are up to their necks with her delinquency. She roams the streets all night in her hijab and torn sneakers.
Then while stealing at the convenience store, she catches Saul’s attention. They form a team, he even buys her new sneakers with his salary, though what exactly binds them together besides their status as social outcasts is not clear. There is clearly no physical or emotional attraction between them. And they don’t have much to talk about either.
Could mutual boredom be enough incentive to bring two people together? Looks like it. Though very honestly, the collective ennui of two misfits doesn’t add up to much excitement in this fairly blah revenge drama where the enemy is not just a dirty gold digger but also an entire system that fosters inequality. Don’t look for too many hidden signs in this drama of anarchic insubordination. What you see is all you will get.
Directed by Tim Sutton, Funny Face gets 2 and a half stars.
Image source: IMDb