Audrey Hepburn is one of the best-regarded Hollywood actresses in the world. Her varied trajectory, elegant attire, and work as a humanitarian have earned her a place in the hearts of millions. Nevertheless, Audrey Hepburn gave the world a specific gem by which she’s constantly honored: Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
This ageless classic has her portraying Holly Golightly, a country girl turned socialite who spends her days running through New York City adorned in Givenchy, throwing swanky parties in her apartment, escaping relentless suitors, all while questioning the meaning of everything and spending her mornings staring inside Tiffany’s.
It doesn’t get better than this when rom-coms are involved.
Not that Audrey Hepburn wasn’t great already, but Holly Golightly showcased her acting range in a never before seen manner. Audrey Hepburn started her career portraying meek characters turned into refined, young women in flicks such as Sabrina and Funny Face; Golightly is nothing short of a complete extrovert; she is unapologetically outspoken, tastefully cynical, and fully knowledgeable of what means she must use to allure wealthy men.
That’s right! This is another never before seen (and never again seen) change for Audrey Hepburn: she is the villain of the story.
Holly is open about what she wants: a rich husband. Throughout the course of the film, Holly goes from suitor to suitor until she finally tries to settle down with Jose Da Silva Pereira, a wealthy Brazilian who falls head over heels for her.
While things don’t quite work out as planned, Holly has no qualms in using the plane ticket purchased by her former fiancé to travel to Brazil to find a replacement suitor, even at the expense of the only genuine love she’s received from (and assumably felt for) budding romantic interest, Paul Varjak.
The Mean Reds
We’ve seen many actresses deliver Oscar-worthy monologues, but the “Mean Reds” discourse Holly gives Paul only minutes after meeting is one of a kind. Truman Capote (author of the novella the film is adapted from) contested with Paramount producers over Hepburn’s casting as Golightly, but it’s unlikely any other actress would have delivered the angst, insecurities, and existential crisis of the character as well as she does only five minutes into the movie.
There’s a reason this movie’s screenplay was nominated for an Oscar… it’s brilliant! Every interaction between Holly and Paul implicates their lifelong search for meaning in both the universe and themselves. Some notable instances include the aforementioned “Mean Reds,” a scene at a club where Holly asks Paul what value he places on the performer on stage, and lastly, the climactic speech during which Paul professes his love to Holly and calls her out for being a coward, afraid to give in to their love and be freed.
What’s an Audrey Hepburn flick without her parading from scene to scene in Givenchy attire; In Breakfast at Tiffany’s, we see Holly strut everything by the designer from chic red coats, beige turtlenecks, to the iconic black dress the character is best remembered by. Granted, Audrey Hepburn is one of those legendary actresses that look sophisticated wearing just about anything, as she does in one party scene where she flaunts a dress made from curtains.
While Audrey Hepburn carried a musical masterfully in Funny Face, Breakfast at Tiffany’s shows us that sometimes all you need is one catchy tune sung on a balcony to win audiences over, as is the case with Moon River. This Henry Mancini piece truly lets viewers into the internal turmoil Holly feels every day of her life. It was praised to such a degree that it won a Grammy and an Oscar for Best Original Song.
Holly is verbal about how she has no sentimental attachments to anything or anyone, hence her refusal to fully furnish her apartment or name her pet cat. Nevertheless, it’s touching to see her tend to cat throughout the film, and equally heartbreaking to see her toss him out of her taxi as she tries fleeing from the city to start over.
Fortunately, Holly comes to her senses and immediately goes looking for her furry best friend in a rainy, New York City landscape which leads to the movie’s romantic finale.
The Tiffany’s Opening:
And who can forget the opening shot with Holly being dropped off in front of Tiffany’s, pondering inside its windows as she munches on her croissant and coffee breakfast. Even before saying a single word, audiences know she has a lot on her mind and can’t wait to hear it.