Film Review: Breakfast at Tiffany’s

One of the late Blake Edwards’ best known films, Breakfast at Tiffany’s is an enjoyable movie. For all the humour and drama however, there is something about the film that just doesn’t sit right.

When Paul Varjak moves into his new Manhattan apartment, the first person he meets is his neighbour Holly Golightly. Holly is a lively and extrovert girl, but reveals a more confused and sensitive side as Paul gets to know her better…

Adapted from Truman Capote’s novella, Breakfast at Tiffany’s focuses on the wonderfully intriguing character of Holly Golightly. Changes from the original story give a bigger part to the writer Paul, as well as the addition of ‘2-E’, the married lady who Paul is ‘kept’ by. These alterations serve to level Paul with Holly; they are more equally in standing, therefore appear suited as a romantic couple.

The dialogue appears fresh and smart, even forty years after the film’s original release. Holly is delightfully quirky in her ways; she is ditzy but also amusingly candid. As charming as Holly is, she is also frustrating, particularly in her treatment of Paul. Holly’s dismissal of the writer exhibits a crueler side to her character.

The development of Paul’s character appears natural over the course of the film. The decisions he makes in regards to Holly and 2-E are understandable and believable. Holly, however, is less convincing in her behaviour. While this is undoubtedly a result of her troubled mindset, the conclusion she come to at the end of the film is rushed. Holly very quickly makes a decision at the end of the film, seemingly a snap one that does not appear to be a natural conclusion. While this may facilitate the desired ending, it is at odds with her attitude throughout the course of Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Nevertheless, the finale of the film offers the audience some catharsis through Paul’s castigation of Holly. Although brief, Paul articulates what at least some of the audience would be thinking.

Marilyn Monroe was first choice for the role of Holly Golightly, before it was given to Audrey Hepburn. Breakfast at Tiffany’s is not one of Hepburn’s finer performances. Although her omnipresent charm shines through, Hepburn is just not believable as an escort. Monroe would have been perfect for this role. She possesses a glint of sauciness that is missing from Hepburn’s performance. Elsewhere, George Peppard brings both strength and sensitivity to the character of Paul, while Patricia Neal is self-assured as 2-E.

Breakfast at Tiffany’s is an ode to Manhattan in its most iconic scenes. The styling is the greatest and most memorable aspect of the film. From the fabulous Givenchy dresses to the romanticising of the Tiffany’s 5th Avenue store, Breakfast at Tiffany’s is a film that looks impeccable. Added to this aesthetic is the inclusion of the now classic ‘Moon River’, which is employed to great effect in the film.

Breakfast at Tiffany’s is essential viewing for lovers of both fashion and New York, and an entertaining watch overall, in spite of its flaws.

Breakfast at Tiffany’s is being screened at the British Film Institute from 21st January 2011 as part of the Audrey Hepburn season, as well as venues across the UK.