Breakfast at Tiffany’s
- Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly
- George Peppard as Paul Varjak
- Patricia Neal as 2-E
- Buddy Ebsen as Doc
- Martin Balsam as O.J. Berman
- Mickey Rooney as Mr Yunioshi
An iconic romantic drama that boasts many memorable images that have burned themselves into pop culture forever, Breakfast at Tiffany’s is simply gorgeous and delightfully made.
The film centres around the beautiful Holly Golightly, a New York City party girl who enjoys the gifts from the many men in her circle. She is something of a kooky young lady with strange mannerisms, that are nonetheless charming. One day in her apartment block, struggling writer Paul Varjak moves in and by chance bumps into the wild Holly. He soon becomes entranced yet bewildered by the young lady who lives below. She throws huge parties that are pouring with energy and drink, yet underneath Holly appears to be a very different person. She puts across that she is an independent girl who desires to be free from constraints, but at the same time you can tell that she is really searching for something more. The money she gets from men is something to help her with her life, but she would love someday to discover her true self. Paul observes Holly from a distance, as he is something of a kept men of an older women he nicknames 2-E. Slowly, he falls for Holly though she is often at odds with how he is feeling. Will Holly ever let the mask slide and discover happiness that doesn’t come from money?
Director Blake Edwards hits all the right notes of comedy, romance and drama here. He stylishly crafts the slightly unusual tale with a deep heart that is wistful as it is observant of the two principal characters. It is a gorgeous love letter to New York City, which makes the place positively sparkle from beginning to end. The film is loosely based on a novel by Truman Capote and from what I’ve heard toned down from the source material. Now I haven’t read the book so I can’t really judge, but I found Breakfast at Tiffany’s a lovely film. Due to censorship of the time, various parts of the story were glossed over. The biggest one is what Holly does for a living( of which I’m told in the book she is a call girl). As shown in the film, she seems to be a girl who enjoys the company of men and having a good time. Yet watching through modern eyes, there are areas where sometimes it gives an insight into Holly’s professional life. The same goes for Paul, who appears to be something of a gigolo himself. I found these parts of the movie interesting as while it is toned down and done subtly, you can get parts of the film that reference these things quietly and not in your face. The movie neatly balances romance and laughs throughout it. Yet many may be surprised by the percolating tone of melancholy that runs through it, mostly in the shape of the conflicted Holly. And if you’re talking about a film of iconic moments, Breakfast at Tiffany’s is practically overflowing with them. There is the opening where Holly observes Tiffany’s from outside in a beautiful black dress and sunglasses, that still influences fashion today no doubt. Then we have Holly crooning ‘Moon River’ on her fire escape as a bewitched Paul watches. And I can’t forget that lovely rain-soaked kiss that occurs and is romance at its most glorious. One of the most successful parts of the film is the score from Henry Mancini, that hits the notes of romanticism and wistful sadness perfectly, including the aforementioned ‘Moon River’. All of these elements fuse together to craft an entertaining and magical experience that has remained evergreen.
This film ultimately belongs to Audrey Hepburn, who is enchanting as the wild and kooky Holly. She displays the zest for life of an extrovert perfectly, showing a disarming and amusing young lady. But the biggest achievement of Hepburn’s performance is how well she shades the character. Holly is a somewhat complex character of contradictions and Hepburn marvellously gets all the sides across. She’s funny, witty yet underneath it melancholy and searching for meaning. It’s a wonderfully constructed performance from a luminous Audrey Hepburn, who never looked lovelier than she did here. George Peppard sensitively plays the curious Paul, who is enchanted by Holly yet frustrated by her outlook on life and men in general. The two share a somewhat unusual chemistry that begins as friendly and then moves into love as Paul discovers the extent of his feelings for the kooky Holly. In supporting roles, Patricia Neal is cynical and sexy as Paul’s benefactor and Buddy Ebsen has the required sadness for playing someone from Holly’s past. And Martin Balsam is a smooth and perceptive presence as Holly’s agent, who sums her up perfectly with the line “She’s a phony, but she’s a real phony”. The only flaw that can be found in Breakfast at Tiffany’s is Mickey Rooney portraying Holly’s Japanese landlord. Not only is the role racist and very offensive by today’s standards, it is supposed to be funny in the film but is cringe inducing and grotesque to watch.
Directed with style, laced with humour and pathos, as well as a superbly radiant Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast at Tiffany’s is a classic for a reason. They simply don’t make them like they used to and this is one of those films that retains a magical glamour.