Adam’s Film Friday – A Review of Breakfast at Tiffany’s

Hello all and welcome to another Film Friday.  This is my first Film Friday living back in New York, and as such I figured I would review a quintessential New York film that showcases some of the famous sites the city has to offer.  That film is Breakfast at Tiffany’s, based on the novella by Truman Capote and starring Audrey Hepburn as the somewhat naïve Holly Golightly.

Holly Golightly is a socialite who gets paid money to keep company with lonely men.  After sleeping off a particularly bad date, she is introduced to a new neighbor, Paul Varjak, who is a writer.  She rushes out because she has to go to Sing-Sing to visit a mob boss, another client, who she gets paid to keep company for.  Upon her return to The City, she runs into Paul again, as she is trying to escape another bad date via a fire escape.  Due to her gratitude towards Paul for helping her escape the date, she invites him to a party she is hosting later that day.  At the party are all the rich men and women who Holly socializes with.  Holly tells Paul that she is going to marry one of the men there for his money despite not being attracted to him.  A couple of days go by and she finds out that the same man is set to marry someone else.  Attempting to cheer her up, Paul takes her to Central Park, a thrift store where they steal some masks, and finally Tiffany’s, which she states is the only place that truly makes her happy.  She then states that if she found another place like it, she’d consider starting her life again there.  Will Holly find that place, or will she continue to wander aimlessly through her life alone, surrounded by her “friends”?

One of the most beautiful and iconic shots is the opening shot of Holly getting out of a cab, walking down 5th Avenue at 6 am in the morning with a Danish and coffee, while looking into the Tiffany’s window.  The emptiness of the city and the serene nature of this shot is exactly how peaceful Holly finds Tiffany’s. Despite the craziness of her life and how hectic New York City can be at times, when she’s at or near Tiffany’s all that matters is the current moment.  An instrumental version of the Academy Award winning song “Moon River” is playing n the background, and it just adds something to the scene.  While it is a gorgeous song and its lyrics are so peaceful the instrumental version really enhances this beautiful and poignant scene. You can’t help but be intrigued by this mysterious character standing at the Tiffany’s window.  You want to learn more about her and inevitably you become drawn to the scene; it’s a great film introduction.  In my opinion its one of the best openings in cinematic history.  Fun fact of the review: Audrey Hepburn hated filming this scene because she hated pastries.

The chemistry between Hepburn’s Holly and Peppard’s Paul is outstanding. In many of the scenes, they played off of each other really well and I felt like they had a genuine friendship while filming this film.  Hepburn’s character has so many sides to her and she played the part perfectly.  She’s someone who never settles down and hasn’t thought about staying in one place, yet still realizes there’s so much happiness in the world, especially at Tiffany’s.  One thing about the film that I really disliked and in fact made me extremely uncomfortable watching was Mickey Rooney’s performance as Mr. Yunioshi.  The character is played in a way that is very racist and stereotypical of Asian people.  It was very awkward, and every time he was in a scene I really wanted to fast forward.  This isn’t anything against Mickey Rooney, he’s a great actor, but I felt like his character was unnecessary and didn’t add to the film.

All in all, I thought Breakfast at Tiffany’s was a great classic film. The acting was strong, the story was really unique, and the translation from book to screen was really well done. The music, particularly “Moon River”, was really beautiful and added to scenes where it was used.  Like always, I will end with a question: what’s your Tiffany’s?  Where in the whole wide world do you go to feel like the outside world ceases to exist?

4 out of 5 stars

Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961)
Paramount Pictures
PG-13, 115 Minutes
(Late last year some of us on the blog answered the question I asked at the end of the review.  To see our responses click here)

#1 A Review of Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M. By Sam Wasson

Cover ImageFifth Avenue 5 A.M.: Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and The Dawn of the Modern Woman by Sam Wasson is the back story about the writing of and eventual production of Breakfast at Tiffany’s.  Wasson also delves into how Breakfast at Tiffany’s helped shaped the modern woman and usher in the sexual revolution of the 60’s. 
Beginning with Capote writing the short story Breakfast at Tiffany’s and ending with the reception of the film version, the book chronicles the long arduous journey from short story to produced film.  Fifth Avenue discusses all the ways that Breakfast at Tiffany’s helped usher in the ideals that shaped a modern woman.  The ideas that a woman could be in control of her own sex life, work, and be independent. 
Sam Wasson articulates his thoughts and points beautifully.  He takes all of these fantastic bits and pieces of knowledge about the story writing, screenplay writing, costume design, lighting, character casting, just everything  and molds it into a narrative that flows from beginning to end.  The reader can definitely feel his love and appreciation for Tiffany’s through this work. 
One of my favorite things about the novel are the sections about how it influenced pop culture and society.  As a HUGE film fan I absolutely love reading about the power that films have to impact our lives.  To read about how the film influenced modern culture and also how it’s choice of leading lady helped lead a feminist revolution was awesome.
I find it really interesting that a lot of modern cultural references to the empowerment of women, such as Sex and the City and 9 to 5, can trace their roots to the image of a strong and confident Holly Golightly.  The way the book analyzes what made Holly Golightly such a new female is very interesting.
I cannot recommend this book enough.  You will not be disappointed!
5 out of 5 Stars
Fifth Avenue 5 A.M. by Sam Wasson
Harper Collins Publishers (2010)
Hardcover 231 pages
ISBN: 9780061774157
To visit Sam Wasson’s website click here
To follow Sam Wasson on Twitter click here
To read Sam Wasson’s blog click here
Related Links
For a link to my review of Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s click here
For a link to my thoughts on a specific quote from Breakfast at Tiffany’s click here
For a link to Adam’s thoughts on a specific quote from Breakfast at Tiffany’s click here