Breakfast at Tiffany’s

In New York, a horrid freeloader by the name of Holly Golightly flitters through life utterly oblivious to how vile and despicable she is, mooching off everyone, never doing anything to benefit society and aiding criminals along the way. She receives a new upstairs neighbour, Paul Varjak (George Peppard), whom she insists on calling Fred because that’s how frustrating a creature she is. Paul is a semi-failed penniless writer working as a sort-of escort on the side. He is bemused by Holly’s lifestyle and inexplicably falls for her, despite her gold-digging tendencies and his own significant lack of funds.
windowAs you may have guessed by that introduction, I’m not much of a fan of Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and even more so I despise Holly Golightly. She is the kind of character who seems to have become a pop culture icon, but who in real life would be the most frustrating and infuriating person to know. She intentionally never takes her door key out with her, as she knows she can always rely on someone else in the building to let her in (usually the horrendously racist portrayal of Mr. Yunioshi (Mickey Rooney), a character I’m not going into because of how infamously racist he is and thus how little I have to add to the matter). She keeps track of the wealthy bachelors in the country, just in case she meets one so she can woo him for his money, and she has no qualms with conning her many various suitors out of as much money as possible. In fact, she seems to have no issues with her way of life whatsoever. I’d be more forgiving – far more so – if she at least seemed the slightest bit guilty about anything she does, but instead she drifts through life as though it’s all for her and this is the way everyone should do things.
At a party, other characters remark that everything just kind of work out for her, and they do so in a cheerful, bemused manner. The example of this comes when her cigarette holder sets alight to a woman’s hat, but when she checks a man’s watch (because why should she have to wear one or even ask to check someone else’s?) she accidentally pours his drink over the flames and puts the fire out. This supposedly shows everything working out, there’s now a man without a drink and a woman with a singed and soggy hat, so explain how things worked out for them, would you? Golightly’s cult status is perhaps the start of the steady decline in popular culture and civilisation as a whole that has so far reached a nadir of reality television obsession. Oh, dear me, I seem to have found myself atop a soap box, please do excuse me.
Holly Golightly’s character is, of course, not the only aspect of this movie, and I’ve got to admit that Audrey Hepburn does a pretty terrific job in the role. This is actually the only film I’ve seen her in, which probably explains why I’ve always assumed everything she ever did was a Golightly-esque character. I’m sure that’s not right, and with some more of her films appearing on my lists I’ll find out soon enough. Hepburn tracks Golightly’s ups and downs well, always remaining a believable character, which just added to my fury at everything she did, so praise must be provided. There’s also a decent supporting cast including Martin Balsam, Patricia Neal and Buddy Ebsen. Balsam is one of those actors I never noticed in anything before a couple of years ago, but now he seems to be in every film made in this era. Twelve Angry Men, Psycho, Little Big Man, Murder on the Orient Express, All the President’s Men, The Taking of Pelham One Two Three, how had I never joined these dots together before?
It’s not a film I ever intend to go back to, mainly because of just how angry it makes me that people like Holly exist, but I can at least acknowledge that it’s well made and well acted. However, the real kicker is just how often Moon River is used on the soundtrack. It may be a good song, but not when it’s all you hear for two hours.

Choose Life 6/10

6 thoughts on “Breakfast at Tiffany’s

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  2. I loved Breakfast at Tiffany’s when I first watched it but have come to see more issues over the years. I could do without the whole mid-movie detour with Doc (I usually skip that dvd chapter when I watch) and of course Rooney is just totally horrible. I get your complaints about her characterization but I always saw her as having a really defensive shield up around her, just trying to make it in New York to escape her past (I guess that’s where the Doc part adds to the movie) even if it means using men at times. The men also seemed to be using her. She’s no hero, but she just has a natural charm to her that’s appealing.

    Audrey Hepburn is just wonderful in Roman Holiday. I hope that’s on your list.

    • Roman Holiday is indeed on the List, and I hope to get to it soon (I’ve had it on DVD for a while). I can see what you mean about the defensive shield, but it’s so high up I found her unbearable.

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