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Review: Crazy About Tiffany’s

Crazy About Tiffanys

“Don’t you just love it!?” enthuses Audrey Hepburn as she flounces through the titular store of Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961). You may expect irony, satire, and surely even critique in this new documentary about the iconic and often controversial jewellery corporation Tiffany’s & Co. But hire-me director Matthew Miele couldn’t agree with Audrey more, as he makes yet another feature length advertisement (“documentary”) for a luxury store, following Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf’s (2013). Yes, Tiffany’s & Co. did provide full co-operation during the making of this film. It’s all too obvious why.

The film attempts, and for the most part succeeds, in explaining the role that Tiffany’s & Co. has had in American culture and society. So clips from Sweet Home Alabama, Bride Wars, Sex and the City and so many more “classics” are expended to display the store’s popularity and justify its position as a documentary subject. One thing a major capitalist enterprise likes to do is indulge in self-congratulation and delusions of grandiose importance. You can almost hear the board applaud themselves as each celebrity talking head rhapsodises about the importance of the store in their lives. Most distastefully, Jessica Alba. There are others of course; Baz Lurhmann’s materialistic desires proves how he really wasn’t the most appropriate person to adapt Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. Even Sam Taylor-Johnson, an artist-photographer easy to admire, comes across as poorly as all the other women who desire a little blue box above all else. Voices of dissent are palpably absent. Where are the feminists? Where are the people with a social conscience? Even when the difficult subject matter is right there on screen screaming to be addressed, such as when they talk about the 287 carat Tiffany Yellow Diamond (referred to as “she” by employees) being discovered in a South African mine in 1877, they gloss over the stains. Any mention of colonialist exploitation? Nope. While the film offers a token look at the controversy surrounding Tiffany’s whitewashed ad campaigns, this is all too brief and blatantly nominal. It’s worth mentioning that these aforementioned post-colonial issues of labour and resource exploitation are still ongoing, with Tiffany’s & Co. right in the thick of it. No surprise that this gets no mention either. Should you be compelled to investigate further, I’m just going to leave this here:

This is a film so far removed from the current social and political climate that it’s practically offensive. The growing wealth disparity and ultra-capitalism in China, for example, is praised as being a case of people thinking “about what they want, rather than what they need,” and a young girl claims that, “the more he spends the more he loves you.” Someone else nostalgically whines that we don’t celebrate beauty like we did back in the day of Hollywood’s Golden Age (because apparently beauty has no currency or value in our society). While these sort of zingers are welcomed for its entertainment and free-speech value, the lack of counter-voice is frustrating.

No voice over guides the proceedings, there is no narrative arc or structure, and there is certainly no central characters or story to invest in. More so, every insignificant PR-approved detail about the store is stretched to its absolute limits. Non-converts lose interest pretty fast, of which I am one. Never have I ever stepped through those revolving doors. The only image I had hitherto associated with Tiffany’s occurs during Midnight Cowboy (1969) – as a man lies dead outside the store, every New Yorker passes by apathetic and dispassionate. After watching this, I am more convinced that this surrealist image remains the definitive one. This was intended as a Tiffany’s ad, but it might work better as a Jeremy Corbyn one.



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