Starring: Audrey Hepburn, George Peppard, Patricia Neal
Directed by: Blake Edwards
An undeniably romantic tale of damaged goods finding love. Though by no means a traditional romance; the evocative ending with Holly (Audrey Hepburn) madly searching for (and finding) ‘cat’ seems to indicate she is not yet ready to let go her carefree self. Paul (George Peppard) faces an uncertain future with this ‘real phony’; the expression on his face implies he knows this too. Much in this film is said through looks or intonation.
During the scene where Holly first realises Paul is in the same business as herself, both are semi-naked; Paul asleep in bed, Audrey wearing a flimsy nightgown. Stripped of sartorial armour they are exposed to each other for what they really are: two people who sell themselves for money.
This is the moment when Holly falls for Paul. She teases him about the cash on the dresser, but what she is really saying is ‘I understand, because I’m there myself’. Such affinity allows her to be vulnerable. She has found her soul mate.
Audrey’s Givenchy fashions are still a talking point nearly fifty years on. Her chic, uncluttered, reusable style gives Holly one area of stability in her life.
The outfits are distinctly Givenchy, lots of satin and big hats and buttons, yet Audrey bestows distinctly Audrey touches. The tight wrapping and not fastening of her belts for example. Emphasising her tiny waist, Audrey knew how to spotlight herself on film without altering character or narrative (she is meant to be ‘skinny’ after all, as Doc heeds with disdain).
Clothes are often employed as a separate discourse for Holly. Early on during the party sequence Audrey wears a white silk wrap and then minutes later changes into a plain black evening gown with upswept hair, huge jewelled necklace and ludicrous cigarette holder. This informs her transformation from lucid, charming Holly to tipsy, man hungry Holly on the prowl.
Breakfast At Tiffany’s (1961) is a polarised view of New York love and style. Less clear-cut than a modern update such as Pretty Woman (1990), and yet, because of this ambiguity, all the more moving.
© 2009 – 2012, Christopher Laverty.