Audrey Hepburn had a lot of memorable, glamorous roles as highly individual, sensitive young women.
But her most iconic turn was as Holly Golightly, a frivolous young woman with a highly sensitive core. Hepburn is a ball of shimmering charm here, whether she's setting hats on fire or chasing nameless cats through the rain, and she's able to shine brightly enough to obscure a few flaws (such as Mickey Rooney). The other actors do serviceable jobs, but she's undeniablythe star.
"Breakfast at Tiffany's" is a daily ritual for Holly Golightly (Hepburn), a social butterfly who hosts parties, entertains drunken men for their fifty-dollartips, and dreams of owning a horse farm in Mexico with her brother. When kept-man Paul Varjak (George Peppard) moves into a neighboring apartment -- courtesy of his rich patroness -- he is instantly enchanted by the ditzy, sweet-natured Holly.
But for all Holly's fun, Paul starts to realize that all is not well with her. She's desperate to marry a spectacularly wealthy man, parties with wild crowds, visits a notorious gangster in jail, and hides that she was an illiterate teen bride to a hick doctor. As Holly's life starts to deteriorate, Paul sets out to show her what her life will be like without real love.
Reportedly Truman Capote wasn't happy with the movie version of "Breakfast At Tiffany's" -- they changed the ending from his short story's, and he didn't like Hepburn as Holly Golightley. But this is one case where the movie's quality is not reflected by what the author thought of it -- taken on its own merits, it's a fine chocolate with a bittersweet center.
Much of the movie is devoted to the friendship (and unspoken attraction) between Holly and Paul, and how it disrupts their comfortable shallow lives. Paul spends the whole movie unravelling the unhappy tale of Holly's life as she starts spinning out of control. Things climax nastily with Holly's already-questionable reputation being sullied, but the finale is an exquisite mix of brutal honesty, true love and a very unglamorous rainstorm.
That said, it's a pretty hilarious movie -- witty dialogue ("... if you like dark, handsome, rich-looking men with passionate natures and too many teeth") and plenty of kooky humour ("TIMBER!" Holly yells as a drunken model keels over, followed by the crowd parting like the Red Sea). And there are plenty of charming, warm'n'fuzzy moments, like the cute day trip through New York.
One thing that will make viewers cringe: Mickey Rooney's caricatured Japanese landlord who objects to Holly's parties. Not. Funny.
Though she was no party girl, Audrey Hepburn is pitch-perfect as Holly -- she can be flaky and adorable ("I'm CRAAAZY about Tiffany's?"), chattery and glamorous, with a cat she refuses to name because they're just a pair of "poor slobs who don't belong to anybody." But she can just as easily flip the switch to show the wounded, almost childlike side.
George Peppard is just as good -- albeit less winsome -- as a writer-turned-kept-man-turned-writer-again, whose protective affection for Holly grows as the movie goes on, but who has to get through her ironclad defenses. And Patricia Neal rounds out the cast nicely as the icy, cynical woman whom Paul gives his non-literary services to.
Hepburn is the flawed diamond at the heart of "Breakfast at Tiffany's," and her charm and acting ability elevate this beyond just another adorable romantic comedy.