"Tiffany's" is basically about a woman who is incapable of loving. She considers herself a "free spirit" a "wild thing," an independent, adventurous woman who lives for the moment. She is also a bit of a social outcast because her "profession" is essentially that of a call girl. Whether or not she actually sleeps with all of these men (or just some of them) who pay her is unclear, but she definitely uses them. She is not a woman of high moral character and despite her constant "up" attitude and optimistic outlook, she is really quite lonely. It's all a reflection of how she really feels about herself I think. It's almost as if she needs to keep trying new things and distracting herself from the truth, because if she were to actually take a moment to stop and look at herself, she would be confronted with how unimpressive and ordinary she really is. She would also have to face the fact that she is not really that stylish. She is an actor playing a part. "Holly Golightly" isn't even her real name. As I said, she is incapable of loving others because she doesn't really even love herself. She feels she is unlovable. Her self-perception is really quite low and that's why she concocts these huge, elaborate fantasies about being elegant, classy and witty. When I first saw the film, I was so impressed by the charm and beauty of Audrey Hepburn that I instantly fell in love with her. The more I watch the movie, the more I realize how utterly sad and pathetic (yet still likable) her character really is. As Marty Balsam says in the film: "She's a phony, but she's a real phony."
Paul Varjak, the character played by George Peppard (pre A-TEAM days of course) is in a similar situation. He is also playing a role and has a lousy self-image. He wants to write but has had such a hard time at it that he has resigned himself to taking money from a married, rich woman, who considers him to be her "good time" on the side, for his living. Paul and Holly start out as simple neighbors, later become friends and eventually fall in love which ends up scaring the pepper out of Holly. She's okay flirting with someone but as soon as she crosses that line over into falling for someone, she becomes afraid and runs away. She sees love as a "cage," something that stifles people and sucks the life out of them. She needs help. She needs someone to love her and she needs to be able to love them back. This man is the perfect one for her because he needs her just as much as she needs him. They can help each other. They can lift each other up. By themselves they are nothing but together they are complete. They are two miserable people who can find happiness in one another.
I like movies about redemption. Stories about otherwise lowly people who are raised to the heights of happiness through love (without it seeming forced or sentimental) are exceptionally rare but when they do show up they tend to appeal to me (that's the reason why I like the story to "Sabrina" so much too). I will never EVER forget that last scene in "Breakfast at Tiffany's" where Holly is finally confronted with the painful truth that despite all her attempts to deny herself, to hide from her own "ordinariness," nothing about her has really changed. As Paul says "No matter where you go, you just keep running into yourself." She admits that she is lonely and unhappy. She goes back for the cat that she set free moments earlier upon realizing that she was coming dangerously close to "owning" him. In going back for the cat she is really going back for herself. She sees herself as the cat and, in fact, there is frequent imagery throughout the film that connects them (Holly wearing the cat mask that she steals from the shop, "Nine Lives" being the name of the book that Paul wrote, etc.). She didn't want to give him a name because she didn't want him to belong to her, she would consider that "caging" the animal. So she called him simply "cat," but over time "Cat" ended up becoming his actual name. In reclaiming the cat she is sort of reclaiming her own life. For a few moments it looks like "Cat" may be gone forever, but when she hears the soft "meow" and pulls him out of a cardboard box, she is elated. She is the happiest woman on earth. Like the cat, she was lost but now is found. She embraces the cat and kisses her love, Paul, as they stand in the rain. The music swells (Gotta love that "Moon River" song) and the screen fades to black. It is, in my opinion, one of the greatest endings of any movie ever.