”Do I detect a look of disapproval in your eye? ...Tough beans buddy, 'cause that's the way it's gonna be. ”
- Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s
Tomorrow I go to New York. Which I associate with a great number of things, but mostly with John Lennon’s death, Liza singing “New York, New York”, myriad period dramas about immigrants coming to Ellis Island, ridiculously large pastrami sandwiches at the Carnegie Deli and women in impossible clothing and sky high heels chain smoking on Sex and The City.
This week I just keep thinking about Breakfast at Tiffany’s. The marketing for that film gave the impression that it was about this impeccably well-dressed, light-hearted woman in New York. When I was little, that’s what I thought. I saw the svelte caricature on the poster and thought, “THAT is what a woman should be.” Little did I know. When I watched it at 14 I was shocked to learn that the film isn’t really about a perfect, happy glamour girl at all.
Holly Golightly is a lost creature beneath her glossy (and, admittedly, quite impressive) surface. At a glance she appears to be full of life but closer examination reveals that she is running from her humble beginnings, from life’s ugly truths and from any connection that might force her to wake up. She has a checkered past and dark secrets. Her life in New York is a hollow, beautiful sham.
It’s almost disturbing how glamorous the image of the film is, as if the studio didn’t get the plot. It makes me think of reading a book and halfway through realizing that the cover artist couldn’t possibly have read the book. But I realize the impression is intentional. Promoting a film as being about an emotionally disturbed con woman who is trying to find herself in all the wrong places and some morally compromising ways might not have been considered an easy sell in 1961. It’s also a quasi-romance between Hepburn's damaged female escort and George Peppard's (really dreamy) writer/gigolo character. Racy stuff, really.
I find Holly unbearably sad. As I have been sad lately, the terribly lost Ms. Golightly keeps coming to mind as I plan my trip. Of course, I’m not as nearly confused as she is, but I am trying to find some part of myself that's gone missing, or at the very least my equilibrium. So I suppose that explains hearing “Moon River” running through my head. And this weekend, for me, is about getting lost.