Seven thoughts about “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”
I just watched this movie and then was sitting down to write a different blog post, but I couldn’t focus because all of this was stuck in my brain. A movie is never just a movie. These are the type of things I think about.
See also: times when I wish I could turn off my “critical analysis” mechanism.
1. I’ve seen this movie dozen of times. Why is it that I always forget how truly awful Mickey Rooney’s racist character and performance is? Really bad. Really, really offensive and bad. And purposefully so, even within the context of the time period.
2. Times may change, but vapid parties are forever. Apparently huge parties based on image over substance are an constant in this universe. Wealth and hipsters then, wealth and hipsters now.
3. I love Audrey deeply. She obviously created this film character the the movie version of Holly is iconic. However, I can also never watch this without thinking of the parallel character of Holly from the book. The other Holly, I always imagined, looks more like a young Mia Farrow. That Holly is a scrawny chameleon tomboy/bohemian/socialite mash-up. I always imagined her as a different kind of woman who ran on charm more than natural elegance, where the movie Holly has that streak and is quirky, but still kind of floats through on Audrey’s grace.
4. That emotional scene where she says to Doc “Stop calling me that, I’m not your Lulamae anymore.” never sits right with me. It’s directed well and Audrey brings the emotion perfectly, but there is a complexity that the writing never gets at. Because she both is (in terms of how parts of us are different to different people) and never was Lulamae (because whoever she decides Holly is, even if she is constantly reinventing herself, that is always the truest part, the most vital part). None of the lines in this movie really speak to that, especially the end. Which brings me to another point…
5. That whole bit about her running away and keeping herself in cages at the end… You know, the part where the dude tells her all about herself - even though I understand how and why it fits for the movie’s love story – I don’t care for it. She’s way too complex for that. I just wish that the script, in some places, let Holly be that complex. She is treated as a broken thing. Her quirks and choices are seen as escapes and defenses. And maybe some of them are, but that really isn’t for anyone else to say, especially not anyone who is trying to love her. The movie could have handled a bit more of her complexity, humanity. Audrey certainly could have handled it as an actress – she would have ripped it open, the way she does in The Children’s Hour when she has to dance through 800 levels of “not talking about being a lesbian” – the tension in that movie is incredible. Breakfast at Tiffany’s lacks some tension where it would have potentially been brilliant.
6. The book is not a love story, or rather it is, but not a romantic love story. The narrator in the book (the writer, whom she calls Fred) is gay. It’s a story about connection. It’s a story about human stories. I love this movie, but again, when the culmination is a confrontation and kiss-in-the-rain scene, I really actually prefer Capote’s original vision. The one that ends with Fred sitting in a bar thinking about this girl he used to know. Where no one is ever allowed to keep Holly. Even Holly.
7. I wonder if the dude who wrote that terrible “What About Breakfast at Tiffany’s” song in the 90’s ever actually saw this fucking movie. That is one of the worst and most disingenuous songs about breaking up/staying together ever.
Sidenote: I always find it odd that Audrey sings in this movie and does a lovely job, but they wouldn’t allow her to sing in My Fair Lady. What was that about?
Fun trivia: Marni Nixon, who sings in My Fair Lady also was the dubbing voice for Maria, and some of Anita’s vocal parts in West Side Story. She got paid shit for it too and often the actresses were kept in the dark about what they were actually recording. So it was a totally fucked situation for all the women involved. And also, my heart broke a little the day I found out that Nathalie Wood didn’t really sing!