Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961)

Breakfast at Tiffany’s
Directed by Blake Edwards
Written by George Axelrod based on the novel by Truman Capote
(number 485)

I would really enjoy this movie so much more if it wasn’t for Mickey Rooney playing the grumpy Japanese landlord Mr Yunioshi. This blatant racist stereotype is jarring in an otherwise rather sweet film.

I sat down to watch it fully intending to hate it. I remember the last time I tried to watch it I thought it was boring and weird, I couldn’t understand why stealing things made a good date. However my tastes have changed and evolved and I found myself enjoying it this time through.

It’s a classic because of Audrey Hepburn playing a wonderfully whimsical gold digger Holly Golightly, a character who was already famous from the Truman Capote novel. The eponymous breakfast at Tiffany’s happens during the opening credits where it’s actually rather nice to see a classic film goddess eating a pastry and drinking coffee from a to go cup like a modern hipster.

There’s a lot of familiar tropes, the movie which inspired some other films such as Priceless, Love and Other Disasters, Moulin Rouge and many more films about girls who are setting their sites high in order to make a living and somehow ignoring the charming everyman who has fallen in love with them.

I understand that in the book Paul is gay, but in the movie he is most definitely straight, a ‘kept man’ for an older woman who has splashed out and is paying his rent. Paul is very uneasy with this situation and doesn’t like when it’s brought up, although Holly tries to bond with him over it.

Is Holly the original manic pixie dream girl? I don’t think so. The story is too much about her arc, her personal tribulations and what she learns for that. She doesn’t seem to teach Paul anything – although she does encourage his whimsy, but given he’s a writer I’d say there’s a lot of whimsy there to start with. Holly to me is a more three dimensional character than the traditional MPDG is – she looks like one though, because she is trying so hard to project the image of a fun, carefree girl. Plus we mostly see her through Paul’s eyes so there’s that.

Also kudos for the cat actor who plays Cat – there was some brilliant acting from that feline and I went ‘awwww’ out loud when they show him all bedraggled in the rain.

Does it make me love the people? It did actually, I felt a sort of begrudging affection for Paul, who I feel behaves well at the start and then gets more and more disagreeable as he tries to control Holly with his feelings for her.

It’s very hard not to love Holly, especially when you get the awkward – previously married – backstory and the concern she has for her slow witted brother. I feel that unlike a lot of other women characters in movies she shows a deep range of emotions too, when she gets upset she screams or cries, pushes people away and is unable to speak. Audrey did a wonderful, realistic job with the vulnerability of the character and I think that’s what makes this movie enduring. Well, that and the costume design of course.

Bechdel test: No, Holly talks to Mag Wildwood but it’s about Rusty – the wealthy bachelor Mag brought along who Holly has her eye on landing.

Best line:

Paul: I love you.
Holly: So what.
Paul: So what? So plenty! I love you, you belong to me!
Holly: [tearfully] No. People don’t belong to people.
Paul: Of course they do!
Holly: I’ll never let ANYBODY put me in a cage.
Paul: I don’t want to put you in a cage, I want to love you!
Holly: Same thing.

State of Mind: Priceless is a better movie…BUT I enjoyed this more than I thought I would. It’s pretty good fun and I maybe got a bit choked up at the end. Maybe. Poor old Cat.

Watched movie count

Interesting things you may not know about Breakfast at Tiffany’s

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