TV / Movie Reviews

At the Movies with Alan Gekko: Breakfast at Tiffany’s “61”

MPAA Rating: NR/ Genre: Romantic Comedy/ Stars: Audrey Hepburn, George Peppard, Patricia Neal, Buddy Ebsen, Martin Balsam, Mickey Rooney, Alan Reed, José Luis de Vilallonga, Stanley Adams, John McGiver, Dorothy Whitney, Claude Stroud, Mel Blanc, Orangey the Cat, Beverly Powers, Elvia Allman/ Runtime: 115 minutes

I think it is safe to start this review off by stating something that you might already know movie lover: the world of movie magic really is an odd and mysterious place sometimes. That’s because while 99% of films are either immediately designated to be either great, good, bad, or so awful you’d much sooner get a root canal than sit through it again, there are those that fit one of those categories and yet for the life of you, you simply cannot figure out just how they managed to get into that category. The reason I bring that up is because for a long time that film for me was the 1961 rom-com Breakfast at Tiffany’s (gasp). Yes I know not only is this film still revered by those who love that particular genre of film of which it is a part, to say nothing of fans of Deep Blue Something, but I just could not for the life of me wrap my head around just why this particular film was seen as iconic let alone a great movie. Fortunately, we as a species have been blessed with streaming services and movie channels on TV, as my luck would have it, this very movie was on one night and I decided to give it a rewatch with as open of a mind as possible. I am glad to say that this was exactly the thing that this movie needed. Yes it still has a few flaws to its name, one significantly bigger than the others, but the fact still remains that this movie is so whimsical yet so simple and delightful to say nothing of the fact that it is perhaps one of the finer showcases of Hollywood legend Audrey Hepburn’s immense talents as an actress thus making this one breakfast invitation I am glad I finally accepted and I look forward to accepting again in the near future.

The plot is as follows: Breakfast at Tiffany’s tells us the tale of an aspiring entrant in the sorority known as socialites by the name of Holly Golightly. Miss Golightly, we are soon able to perceive, is a woman who lives a topsy-turvy life though not without pretty significant desires and goals, but one that still feels quite aimless. A fact that is quite apparent when taking into account that she lives on her own and out of her luggage, one of which contains her phone, in a barely furnished apartment with a cat that she still hasn’t given a name to. In fact, if there is anything that she does on some semblance of a schedule it would have to be the fact that evert Thursday she goes to visit a organized crime boss up in Sing Sing and give him a *ahem “weather report” for no less than 100 dollars a week. Yet Holly’s life is soon upended by the arrival of a new neighbor who takes the form of a young man and aspiring writer named Paul Varjak. Yet while our pair conjure up a bond almost right from the start, things soon get a bit icy when our intrepid heroine believes him to be involved with another woman in their building. Of course things aren’t as they seem, and soon Paul is inching his way closer and closer towards being the focus of Holly’s heart, mind, and soul. Unfortunately things are again thrown a serious curve when some secrets from Holly’s past are revealed and Paul is faced with the realization that a difficult road lies ahead in making a relationship with her work. Thus, dear reader, will fate lend this pair a hand of assistance or will this perfect storm of delusional aspirations, misunderstanding, and sordid secrets destroy all that they are trying to build together?

Now I think it is safe to say that this film is more than anything else a thespian-powered slice of cinema. Yes the work at the helm does give us a delightful blend of steady shot and unique perspective shots, this movie is still mostly a triumph however because of the work done by the thespians in front of the camera and not the crew behind it. To that end, it should be noted that this film really does have the look and vibe of a filmed theatrical play (minus the audience of course).  Indeed the sets are not only simplistic and scarce with a few exceptions in particular the moment where Holly shops at the titular store of Tiffany’s among one or 2 others. Other than those however, this film’s sets are made up of very scarcely decorated apartments and a few gorgeous moments set outdoors. In addition, it should also be noted that every location we go in the film, again with the exception of Tiffany’s, manages to also function as a potent yet not willingly to interrupt in any way background within with the dialogue, advancement of the narrative, and character construction, all happen in. Again though this is a film which was constructed for and around the cast of thespians they got to bring this story to life and in that regard I am pleased to point out that the performances that this film’s cast manages to provide, save one, all do an impeccable job of taking whimsical and charming yet simplistic narrative about a pair of people with troubled pasts finding love with each other despite those pasts and magically turns it into a moving and quite heartwarming film watching experience that everyone should truly see at least once.

Thus while this film does have its fair share of flaws, they are all hidden ingeniously well by the truly wonderful performances, save one, that the cast manages to provide. Indeed I do not know of many films which could have still been standing tall if they were telegraph way in advance the plot and the characters like this film does. To that end, while the film does have some genuine surprises in store for viewers, the things you can and can’t see coming from a mile away really do not matter due to just how great of a job this film is at choosing to concentrate on the romance between Holly and Paul and having just about everything else function as integral support, but ultimately unnecessary stops on the path this film takes to its predictable but still satisfying and truly wonderful conclusion to the point that this film is a true testament to the strength of just great old-school romance done phenomenally well and to just how iconic this particular genre is in the world of film. Indeed looking back on it now, this film is one that you could easily call that generation’s “Pretty Woman” since both are charming as heck and basic stories dealing with a blossoming romance in a big city constructed around people who might not be who they say they are, pasts coming back to haunt people, people randomly crossing paths, and chemistry between both roles and the thespians portraying them that doesn’t come around that often. Indeed the performance given in this by Hollywood legend Audrey Hepburn truly is a gold standard for not only style and charm, but also in being sincere. A trinity of ingredients that were not only essential in the creation of an icon, but in the making of a film that truly is something magical.

To that end, it should be noted that iconic writer Truman Capote’s whimsical, pretty, amusing, slightly naïve, and bit of a mystery Holly Golightly, as played by Hollywood legend Audrey Hepburn, is one of the textbook examples of a truly iconic character to say nothing of being one that even the most causal movie goer should be able to recognize. Indeed there is a reason why this character is perhaps the most known of Hepburn’s iconic career as an actress, but even more astonishing and remarkable is just how this character also has managed to stay one of film’s more complex characters. Indeed with such notable attributes as an identity that might not be genuine, a pedigree that’s a bit off, and possessing, among other things, a habit for both enjoying having people around whilst also being on her own, a desire to be financial set whilst content with her lot in life, and being on her own yet giving herself the opportunity to fall in love, Holly really truly is one of the more complex individuals ever to grace the silver screen. Indeed she really is a lightning in a bottle type of character being played by an actress who was truly one in a million. Suffice it to say then that Breakfast at Tiffany’s is a film which is constructed vastly around both how strong the lead character is to say nothing of how incredibly she is brought to life. Indeed the film, from a foundation standpoint, is quite solid, but it still manages to become something else entirely thanks in large part to Hepburn and the truly legendary performance she brings to the finished product.

All in all so with all of that being said dear reader I guess you too are finding yourself, very much like I did at one time, wondering: so just why in the heck is Breakfast at Tiffany’s such a delightful film despite what looks like a few critical potholes in the road? Well as I said at the beginning of this review dear reader it all comes down to a single word: Simplicity. Indeed here for your viewing pleasure is a genuinely good and old fashioned in every sense of the word love story that manages to blossom out of a narrative that is constructed around one of the more puzzling and complicated characters in the world of fiction literature. Of course it should go without saying, but the performance given to us by Audrey Hepburn in this manages to do a wonderful job of giving that complexity a necessary balance courtesy of a simple charm that manages to completely overcome all the negatives that the character possesses. Thus when you combine the message the film gives us that love can overcome all obstacles whilst also accepting in its embrace genuinely decent values such as caring for others and mixes it together with both a delightful comedic touch as well as one of the finest performances ever given from one of Hollywood’s most iconic and classy actresses, you get a film that is not only one of the best entries in the romance genre of movie magic, but a slice of cinematic pie that will be enjoyable now and always. On a scale of 1-5 I give Breakfast at Tiffany’s “61” a solid 4.5 out of 5.