Sometimes I want to sit and knit and watch something that is well done but asks very little of me. So when I was browsing Netflix earlier this week and saw the 2020 Audrey Hepburn documentary Audrey, I let out a sigh of deep affection and nostalgia, and clicked play.
I was not disappointed: Givenchy gowns, vintage photos and movie clips, and audio of Audrey speaking in her exquisitely unplaceable accent, so formal yet so warm. And there was an unexpected bonus: the star’s lifelong friends, speaking about her with sincerity, honesty, and tenderness. Since a major theme of Audrey Hepburn’s life story is the never-quite-satisfied longing for love, it’s striking to hear that very thing in the voices of these friends, her son, and her granddaughter. To be loved on one’s own terms, for one’s self—it’s unexpected in a movie star, and very moving to witness. She made interesting choices in life, and didn’t get her head turned by her vast fame. Her final chapter, as indefatigable UNICEF ambassador, is admirable and heartbreaking.
I didn’t quite get the ballerinas who appear at the beginning and here and there, faceless and somber—but they did not detract from the pleasure of this biography.