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23rd August
2009
written by Tony

I don’t get this movie. I mean, I get it, I just don’t get the allure. Steph and I watched this for the first time the other day and we were both kind of left flat. I am aware that this is probably a pretty unpopular opinion since I know very well that there are a lot of Hepburn fans out there and that this movie is well loved by many. Before I get in to why this movie was so uninspiring, I’ll detail the plot for those of you who have not seen this movie (or saw but didn’t pay attention). Hepburn plays an escort (essentially, Capote was much more explicit in his novel about what she did for a living, but her assumed name is Holly Golightly — you be the judge) who is living out some sort of selfish delusion that involves her taking little to no responsibility for her life or her actions, so much so that she even abandons her patrons mid-date (despite this being her bread and butter) and has yet to unpack her apartment after one year of occupancy. George Peppard plays Paul, who is essentially a kept man. His wealthy benefactress comes and goes throughout the movie and everyone does a good job dancing around the fact that he is a gigolo. Mickey Rooney is the blaring Asian stereotype, Mr. Yunioshi, who lives upstairs. I guess I thought the 60s were more enlightened or something, but putting Rooney into yellow face just astounded me. Patently offensive may not be the right turn of phrase, but it’s where I’m left at the end of the day. To his credit, the Director, Blake Edwards has expressed regret that he made the yellow face choice and wishes it could be undone. Sadly, Mickey Rooney said he was “heartbroken” by the criticism and had not received any complaints in the ensuing 40 years after the movie’s release. I understand how, at the time, he may not have seen it as offensive, but I would have hoped he would see the error of that as time went on. Still, a little part of me feels bad for him because I really don’t get the feeling he meant any offense, he was just hamming up the role he was given. Anyhoodle, as you can guess, Paul falls in love with Holly and chases her throughout the movie, trying to get her to see the error of her ways as she moves from one wealthy potential husband to another. Fortunately, the irony is not lost on him and he disengages from his “decorator’s” affections before making his last try for Holly’s love. Now, in some ways the character of Holly is nicely nuanced. It’s clear that her career choice is endemic of her rejection of any and all responsibility, which is most likely a result of her first marriage at a very young age to a Texan rancher. She rejects the idea of belonging to anyone or anything so she charges for her time with her suitors, effectively setting a limit on how long she has to be with any one person based on their financial restraints. It’s also clear that Paul’s situation in life has colored his perception of reality in a strange way. At the very end of the movie he confesses his love to Holly and she replies that she isn’t his property. His reply? Oh yes you are! I love you, therefore you are mine! Yikes! The sad thing is it’s made clear we’re supposed to be rooting for this line of reasoning. Based on what I have just written, this doesn’t sound like such a bad movie (except for the whole racism/misogynistic thing) and I guess it isn’t. It’s just that I really didn’t think the acting was enough to fully take advantage of the complex and layered characters that Capote had provided in his book. Perhaps I’m just not a fan of the typical 60s feel that so many films of that era exude — the too-fast conversation, where it sounds like the actors have half the time they need to say their lines, the idea that conveying strong emotion involves speaking faster and louder and not much else, and the general “well howsaboutit” style of dialogue combined with the zany lifestyle that I’m certain very few, if any, real people ever experienced off the stage. Perhaps the biggest disappointment for me was that they decided to try and turn this film into a “shenanigans” type movie and really only glossed over the larger issues at work within the characters. I felt like none of the actors gave a performance subtle enough to do any amount of justice to the material they had to work with. Ultimately, I feel like the portrayals were a dumbed down version of what could have been a much more powerful commentary on life, love and posession. 3 out of 5

5 Comments

  1. 08/23/2009

    I’m not keen on the film version of Breakfast at Tiffany’s eihter- whilst Audrey is gorgeous, I find the story shallow and uninteresting and Mickey Roney’s performance is wince inducing. Charade and Roman Holiday are far better Audrey films, and worth seeing if you havem’t already.

  2. Eva
    08/23/2009

    I adore Audrey Hepburn, but this definitely isn’t one of my favourites by any means. So I agree with you-3/5 is a good rating. 🙂

  3. 08/24/2009

    Yeah, I think what Tony forgot to mention in this review is how BORING this movie is. Serious snoozefest. All I remember is liking Holly’s bathtub-couch, and then wishing this thing were over. I have always wanted to read the short story by Truman Capote, but now I’m kind of scared, because either the movie was a horrible portrayal of his story, or his story is not that good… Anyone have thoughts on that issue?

  4. 08/27/2009

    I think Audrey’s best movies were Roman Holiday, and How to Steal a Million (a terrific, and rather underrated museum robbery caper).

    The rest were just snoozefests. And I totally agree with your viewpoint on 60’s Hollywood movies, most of them are totally unwatchable now.

  5. 09/25/2009

    I actually loved the movie, but not because it is a great
    one.
    I think it is more about Hepburn herself.
    She is just a wonderful, classic wonderfully dressed actor.
    If you want a book on her real life, may I suggest an audio book called Enchantment. It is amazing how she had contact as a child with Unicef and ended up at the end of her life full circle working for them. It is really good! Her real
    life was amazing. I have seen everything Audrey Hepburn has been in including something called “Gardens of the World”
    If you love flowers you will love this. She goes all over Europe to the most beautiful gardens. Guess you can tell
    I love Audrey Hepburn and most of her movies.

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