Breakfast at Tiffany's
In 2011, Breakfast at Tiffany's starting Audrey Hepburn and George Peppard turned fifty. I had never gotten around to watching this classic, so I sat down with my boyfriend to see what the fuss is all about. Note that there are spoilers in this review!
The tale is about Holly Golightly, a gold-digging woman, who runs into Paul Varjak, a writer / gigolo who lives one floor above. She throws wild parties for people who really don't care much about her. Her sole aim is to find a rich guy to marry.
One of the first things that caught my attention was the almost cruel, racist portrayal of a Japanese man by Mickey Rooney. Mickey Rooney is clearly not Japanese, so they used (I'm not kidding) buck teeth and tape at the edges of his eyes to pretend he was Japanese. I realize this was 1961, but even then I can't imagine that this kind of racist laughing was really kosher. Apparently it was so bad that on current DVD releases they have a long documentary attached with the movie specifically talking about this portrayal. Every time the character came on screen it made me uncomfortable.
Still, I knew this was a classic, so I tried to look past that. The first scene with Holly and Paul was actually sort of sweet. She's innocent, in her way, and lost. He takes her in, a fellow castaway in the roughness of life. I began to feel for them as she curled up in his arms, crying due to nightmares.
And then came the wild party scene. I'm not quite sure how others find this scene to be amazingly funny. I found it full of very drunk people acting badly towards each other. They press cold objects against each other and laugh. They let people fall face-first down onto the ground and laugh. Maybe it's supposed to be slapstick, but with other parts of the movie aiming towards touchingly real, it plays a false note for me. I don't like to see drunk people hurting each other. It's just not fun for me.
She chases after one guy. He marries someone else. She chases after another guy. He won't marry her. She decides to keep working her way through guys.
It turns out she was married at 14 - **14!!** - to a middle aged doctor with 4 kids. That right there was really creepy. The doctor wants her back. I would turn him over to the child abuse authorities. Were his own kids the age of the teen girl he was bringing in his house to sleep with??
There's an abused cat who is flung at walls, flung on floors, and near the end, tossed out like garbage on the street by its owner, the heroine Holly. I realize they wanted to show she was lonely and damaged, but even so, it hurt my appreciation of her. There wasn't much left for me to root for here.
So then the world gives up on her, and she's all alone, and she thinks, "hey, this being alone sucks, let me at least go back and get this guy here to take care of me." And she finally thinks about her cat who is shivering and miserable in the rain.
What was disappointing was that I really wanted to like the movie. I like the idea of a woman who wants to be wild and free, who resists being caged. But her whole purpose in life was to find a guy to make a gold cage for her! That was her aim.
Also, what kind of a guy takes a woman out to a strip club for an evening, as a way to help her get over a painful loss? Was that really the only place he could think to take her to?
I do give Audrey Hepburn credit. Given the script she had to work with, she did an amazing job with her acting. There were some scenes where you could just look into her soul, see the lost, scared, uncertain person within.
So well recommended for that - but especially given its incredible racist bent, I just won't be watching this again.
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