“Shot Through the Heart” is a weekly segment in which I rant about a story that means the world to me. Each week we’ll go over a film, book, short story, or game that touched me in ways that are hard to put into words without them just turning into word vomit. This week I’m going to talk about one of my favorite films and I’m so sorry about how cathartic it is to watch but…toxic relationships suck ass – Breakfast at Tiffany’s!
Holy shit, this movie should be a huge trigger for anyone that’s been in a toxic relationship. Seriously just…woah.
Let’s do this.
So Breakfast at Tiffany’s is a rom-com starring my favorite waif, Audrey Hepburn. This teeny tinkerbell is a powerhouse when it comes to comedy, having starred in a multitude of fun films that required her to play a layered character that comes to a point at the end of the story and grows. In this film she delves into something darker – the prolonged adolescent.
See, Holly Golightly (Audrey Hepburn) is a permanent child. She married at 14 and stuck around as long as a bad cold before hopping onto the next train to socialite. We’ve all been in at least one bad relationship but this really sent me into a spiral. The character of Paul Varjak (George Peppard) is an absolute moron. Oh don’t get me wrong, he’s a talented writer and apparently an absolute stallion in the sack, but he’s suckered in by a woman who values boujie lifestyle and social appearance more than she does meaningful connection and reality. She MAY be a prostitute, we’re not sure, but she’s definitely having sex in exchange for at least favors from, among others, a drug ring. This isn’t the type of person you want a relationship with and yet…Varjak is drawn to her. He’s no saint either, entitled and controlling during his pursuit of Holly. He feels he’s owed a relationship (note: a relationship, not just sex) for his status as the only good thing in her life. It’s kind of gross and yet…who can’t relate if you’ve been in an unhealthy, non-platonic friendship?
I love this film for a myriad of reasons but this is the core of it. These toxic ideals are some of the most ugly, sweet, and disgusting connections you could make in a film. Holly is not a good person, willing to sleep with anyone to get to the top and making no bones about it. She loves no one but herself and pursues only men of fortune while using her body and quirky personality to string along others that might be fun and more meaningful. The whole time Varjak is using his youthful stamina to acquire cash that will fund his writing career while pining over a woman that loves him but also wants to use him. It’s a disgusting smorgasboard of hatred and putrified romance that I can’t get enough of.
It’s telling that in a film involving extreme yellow-face that I’d find the character interactions more vile, but that’s why I love this film. It has very racist aspects and openly works to sell this pairing as a sweet thing, but what it actually accomplishes is a warning flag to modern viewers as to what to avoid. For women it paints an unhappy, possessive hetero male so an object to be wary of because he might hamper down their free-spirit lifestyle. For men it paints the hetero woman as something manipulative, only interested in using her body to further her own self-indulgent lifestyle. It’s all gross, and that’s part of its charm.
See…this isn’t a movie about good people. This is, in fact, one of the films that paints a toxic relationship as something to watch out for. Nothing about the interactions between Paul and Holly is healthy and yet they seem to find each other in the end. This is an instance of two people, unequipped to have any meaningful romantic relationships, heading each other off at the pass and coming together. Vile, depraved, and sickening…it’s still sweet. There’s something out there for everyone, even if it’ll never truly work.