Hello everyone. Welcome to another #moviemonday. Today I am discussing the movie adaptation of Breakfast at Tiffany’s starring the lovely Audrey Hepburn. I have discussed Truman Capote’s famous novella and if you’re interested in checking that out then you will find it in my Book Of The Month category.
I stated in my book discussion that the book and the movie are extremely different and seeing as we are approaching Valentine’s Day, I thought that this movie would be a good choice as it is quite charming and includes an iconic kissing in the rain scene, a trope that one naturally associates with romantic/romantic comedy movies.
So let’s dive into Movie Monday.
This movie was released in 1961 and it was directed by Blake Edwards.
The plot is the same as it is in the book although there are sections that are glossed over and some of the jarringly offensive language was thankfully left out. Mistakes were still made, if you’re familiar with the movie then you’ll know exactly which casting choice I am referring to. It’s safe to say that the same thing would hopefully not happen if this movie was made in 2022, but in the 60s, standards were different and certain things that thankfully aren’t acceptable today were back then.
The plot follows Paul, an aspiring writer who moves into a New York brownstone and meets the mysterious and charming Holly Golightly, who calls him “Fred”. Holly’s chaotic yet intriguing lifestyle inspires “Fred” and the more he gets to know her (or not know her), the more intrigued and charmed he becomes and overtime he falls for her although Holly is not really the romantic type. Just like in the book, she’s preoccupied with trying to get herself a millionaire while also paying visits to her “uncle Sally” in Sing Sing.
The two lost people find a sense of belonging in one another, even though Holly never wants to belong to anyone. Just like in the novel, she’s restless, she’s afraid to commit, she builds walls around her heart so that she can’t get hurt, and she just wants to find that place that makes her feel like Tiffany’s because “nothing so very bad can happen at a place like Tiffany’s.”
I recommend reading the novella before watching the movie because even though the movie is not the exact same and even though it glosses over some of the grittier aspects of Capote’s piece, I believe that you need to read the book in order to understand the movie. It’s hard to explain the plot because there really isn’t one. The novella is about “Fred” telling us about his experiences with Holly. In the novella we don’t even learn his real name. Holly is at one point described as being like a scarf that floats in the wind and that is such an apt description of her character. She’s confusing, she’s at times infuriating, she’s impossible to figure out and yet she’s charming, she’s intriguing, she’s vulnerable, she’s layered. Holly Golightly is an iconic character for a reason and I think that Hepburn did a wonderful job playing her.
The movie’s main protagonists are Holly and “Fred”. As I’ve stated above, Holly is a complex character who has many layers. She’s impossible to define which is ideal because Holly did not ever want to be defined. She didn’t want to be caged or put in a box. Holly is a very vulnerable character who has had a tough past, but she has built a life for herself, she has built a mysterious image that keeps her safe. “She’s a phoney, but she’s a real phoney.”
“Fred” is much more of the classic romantic lead that one would expect to see in a 1960s movie. He’s handsome, he’s charismatic, he’s kind and understanding, but he’s not perfect, he’s got his own struggles. He’s an ambitious writer, struggling to gain his own independence. He’s trying to get published and make a career out of his dream, all while falling for this girl who he can’t quite figure out.
There isn’t really an antagonist in this movie. There’s lots of different characters. We meet “Fred’s” decorator, a wealthy woman whom he sees for money, we meet Doc, Holly’s estranged husband whom she married when she was very young. We meet José, a Brazilian politician whom Holly plans to marry at one point, we meet Holly’s rather obnoxious friend Mag Wildwood, and then there’s Joe Bell, he runs the local bar.
All of the other characters exist in the realm of Holly. “Fred” meets these people because of his friendship with Holly, it’s unlikely that he would have met any of these people by himself, aside from Joe Bell that is.
I spoke about the themes of Breakfast at Tiffany’s in my book discussion and although the movie is different, and arguably more romantic, I feel the core themes are the same. This is a movie about belonging. The major theme of this movie is this idea of finding somewhere that makes you feel like you’re at ease. A place that makes you feel safe and content. Holly is restlessly trying to find that place and “Fred” believes they could be happy together if Holly would stop running from him and from the idea of commitment. Holly does not want to be caged, but “Fred” doesn’t want to cage her, he simply loves her. Holly comes to see that she loves him too, and just because she wants to settle with him, it doesn’t mean she is trapped. If anything, I think that Holly and “Fred” complement each other. She inspires him to write and he’s charmed by her hard to figure out and follow personality. The pair even spend a whole day doing things that they’ve never done before together and it’s one of the most charming scenes in this movie.
I want to take a moment to appreciate the movie’s opening scene because I think it is a beautiful and cleverly shot opening scene. The movie opens on a scene of a beautifully empty fifth avenue in the early morning. A woman in a black dress, Holly, only we don’t know that yet, is looking into the window at Tiffany’s. She’s eating a pastry and drinking a coffee. She’s all alone. She’s got dark sunglasses on. We only see her through the reflection of the store window and I just think this is a brilliant opening scene. We are filled with questions. Who is this woman? Where was she? Why is she at Tiffany’s? All of these questions are fantastic because Holly is a character who evokes nothing but questions. She’s a riddle, right from the opening credits.
Later, when Holly tells “Fred” about how much she loves Tiffany’s and how she goes there whenever she needs to feel better, this opening scene can be viewed differently. It’s open to interpretation, but I think one could say that Holly was at Tiffany’s early in the morning after a bad date with a client, hence the black dress, and she wanted to chase away the “mean reds”, so she went to Tiffany’s and longingly stared into the window while she ate her breakfast.
I also think that the emptiness of fifth avenue could be open to interpretation too. Was the street really empty or did it just appear empty because Holly was lost in her own world?
Was the empty street a metaphor for the emptiness in Holly’s life? I like to think about this sometimes. Some may say that is a stretch but that is the beauty of personal interpretation.
There is something about the way this movie flows, it is almost like a free verse poem, perhaps because Holly is such a free person. The scenes seem to melt together in a dreamy sort of way. It is a visually beautiful movie. I’ve said before that it looks like a painting. There is something incredibly charming about it and I always enjoy it whenever I watch it.
If you’re an Audrey Hepburn fan, watch this movie. If you have never seen this movie, watch it. While it is very different from the novella, I think that it is still a very enjoyable movie to watch. There is something very peaceful about this movie, there is a certain charm to this movie, it is visually stunning, the story is compelling and I think that it is just a lovely romantic movie that hits the heartstrings because the idea of wanting to find somewhere where we belong is very universal. I think that Holly is an iconic character because even though she can be a complex riddle, I think in many ways, her fears, her vulnerabilities, her anxieties etc., are very relatable which makes the movie much more enjoyable. I think at some point we all just want to feel like we belong, which is why we hope that Holly finally finds that place she’s searching for, because we all hope we will find that place too.
This has been Movie Monday.