Breakfast at Tiffany's

Breakfast at Tiffany's ★★★★

It might be easy to dismiss Holly Golightly as the fairy godmother of the manic pixie dream girl, which of course she is, but as O.J. Berman, her “agent”, repeatedly points out, she is a real phoney. This is the mask she wears when she is with Paul Varjak, through whose eyes we see her—Varjak himself is playing at being a writer, although his true income lies elsewhere—but it is no more real than the iconic little black dress and cigarette holder that present an air of cafe society sophistication to her affluent “boyfriends” or the very different mask she wore with Doc Golightly. Perhaps the only time we see her true self is when she is staring at diamonds through the front window of Tiffany's.

Just like all the men who fall in love with Holly Golightly—and it seems like every man is in love with her—Breakfast at Tiffany's turns a blind eye to the true source of her incone, and I enjoyed the film most when this seedy underbelly and hidden darkness come to the fore. George Peppard, who will always be Hannibal to me, is undeniably handsome as Paul Varjak, but he pales into blandness next to the extroverted aloofness and otherworldly beauty of Audrey Hepburn. The film loses something by ignoring the queerness of Truman Capote’s novella, but this was 1961 and the relationship between Golightly and Verjak certainly has its charms, particularly the day of doing new things and, of course, his overhearing her wistfully singing “Moon River.” I am shocked that they didn’t retire the best song Oscar after this. Henry Mancini, who was in the middle of an incredible purple patch, is almost as important to the film as Hepburn herself.

Less charming, however, is Mickey Rooney’s yellowface caricature of Mr Yunioshi, which is the most overtly racist stereotype I have ever seen. Much of his performance was cut from the version I watched with no major detriment to the plot, and the unnecessariness of the character makes the portrayal feel especially gratuitous. 

Mickey Rooney aside, Breakfast at Tiffany's is a delightful start to the year. It could have embraced the darkness a little more, and I’ll never quite forgive Holly Golightly for her treatment of her cat—the film’s outstanding performer, by the way—but the best moments are absolute magic. And just like everyone else it seems, I couldn’t stop myself falling a little bit in love with Holly Golightly.

Happy New Year everyone!

Block or Report

Richard liked these reviews