Sunday, February 14, 2016

Holly Golightly~ Your Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

I love older movies and all things Audrey, so when a local theater was advertising a screening of Breakfast at Tiffany's to kick off Valentine's Day weekend, I made plans to go.

The only thing was, I didn't know why they were marketing this night as a romantic date night. I've seen the movie, dozens of times, but haven't in the past few years. I realized I hadn't re-watched the movie again, starring Audrey Hepburn and George Peppard, since I read the novel by Truman Capote.

I forgot that Hollywood changed Capote's original novella, so it does indeed play out like a romance with the Hollywood HEA and all. The book's ending is a bit more believable, but leaves you a little depressed. At least, it left me a little depressed.

On the surface, Breakfast at Tiffany's has all of the elements of your modern day rom-com. Scattered brain single girl trying to make it in the big city. A meet-cute with her new, insanely attractive neighbor. Let's pretend, just for a moment, that her crotchety upstairs neighbor, Mr. Yunioshi, isn't a horribly racist portrayal of a Japanese man played by Mickey Rooney.

Come on, Hollywood. Was this ever a good idea?

Holly Golightly is an iconic movie image. Just about everyone can recognize the poster even if you haven't seen the movie. Despite George Peppard's Paul being enamored with Holly, she's a crazy person. It's actually ill-advised that anyone get into a relationship with her. In all honesty, Holly has ever right to be as crazy as she is. She was an orphaned runaway, trying to care for her younger brother Fred when a rancher and veternarian takes them both in. Oh, and he marries her when she's fourteen, and enlists her to help in raising his four children. 

To his credit, Doc Golightly seems like a very nice man. Even if he is tracking down his child bride and trying to take her back to his ranch. He even tries to emotionally black mail her, telling her he'll throw her brother out onto the streets if she doesn't come home. Who wouldn't be a little messed up with a back story like that?

Holly and Paul are equally flawed, and aside from being neighbors in the same apartment building, they realize they lead similar lives. Paul is a writer, his older girlfriend pays for his apartment and gives him money—so she has the ability to visit whenever her husband is away. Holly makes a living as a high paid escort, she informs Paul, "Men give me fifty dollars everytime I get up to use the powder room." They're both just getting by, essentially selling themselves to make ends meet.

A glamorous life funded by other people.

They have a mutual friendship and a somewhat off-balance attraction. Paul falls in love with Holly, from her zany ways to her wounded past. Holly seems to love Paul in her own way, but she calls him Fred because he reminds her of her brother and she almost seems to be replacing Paul in her life with that of the brother she feels she abandoned.

Holly shrugs off Paul's advances and tries her hardest to land herself a rich husband (a gold digger long before Kanye was writing songs about them). Her motives are pure though, her brother Fred is getting out of the army and she needs a way to support him especially since Doc's threat of throwing him out. She longs to have her brother back again and to make amends for abandoning him. You can respect her for that.

In the book *SPOILER ALERT* (if it is even possible to spoil a book written close to 60 years ago) Paul doesn't even have a name, he's just the narrator, and he does love Holly and she doesn't return that same love. But in the end she leaves. She dumps her cat in the alley, "We belong to nobody and nobody belongs to us. We don't even belong to each other." And she's off, leaving the narrator to wonder what became of her.

In the movie, it all clicks for Holly when Paul tells her she's afraid of letting someone love her. They retrieve the cat from the rain in the alley way and they share a big romantic Hollywood kiss right there on the New York City sidewalk. Because even though Holly's mantra this entire time has been that no man can keep her, Paul has convinced her in the span of thirty seconds that he can.

And I'm supposed to believe they lived happily ever after? Neither of them even have any skills! How are they going to support themselves? They're both used to the finer things in life which have been provided for them by their richer and older lovers. This relationship has doom written all over it. It's certainly ending with Paul's clothes scattered all over the fire escape as Holly dumps them out the window, throwing him out of her apartment and out of her life before she leaves on her quest to find herself a rich man again.

Even if I found the ending to the book slightly depressing with Holly disappearing into the ether, I at least had the small fraction of hope that she was working through her shit and maybe getting her life together.

You can't fix her, Paul. Let her work her life out without butting in. As a matter of fact, maybe you should examine your own life and stop trying to fix other people.

This all might sound like I hate this movie and I'm telling you not to watch it. That's not at all what I'm saying. It's one of my favorite movies and if you get the chance to watch it, please do, it's full of interesting characters and great actors. But maybe read the book after your done watching and see if you don't agree with me.

As for Holly Golightly and her iconic look? Definitely emulate it all you want, she nailed the little black dress before it was a thing. But don't try to be like Holly Golightly, she's the original crazy ex-girlfriend and no one needs that in their life.

1 comment:

  1. Oh, I LOVE both the book and the film. I read the book before I'd seen the movie. Book Holly is a lot more screwed up. And she's practically a prostitute.

    Love the film, though. I could happily stare at Audrey Hepburn all day long. She is literally the most beautiful person ever.

    I was genuinely shocked by how much NICER the film was, though. I missed the inherent grimness of Truman Capote's original story.