Something from Tiffany’s isn’t much more substantive than your average holiday rom-com, but it’s leads are so likeable and its approach so breezy that it will go out as one of the year’s better Christmas efforts.
Someday, Hollywood is going to figure out what to do with Zoey Deutch, quite possibly one of the most charming and effervescent actresses working in film today. Such clichéd descriptors, however, fail to do justice to the artist herself, the type of actress who has proven her ability to elevate any number of subpar projects by her mere presence, whether it be big-studio Hollywood dreck like Why Him? or wannabe-edgy indie fare like Flower and Buffaloed. A number of filmmakers have certainly tried to wrangle her combination of fierce screen intelligence and everyday relatability into potential star projects, but none have come close to equaling the talent glimpsed onscreen, an actress begging for a challenge. That something like Zombieland: Double Tap came closest by casting Deutch against type as a ditzy blonde should tell you the dire state of projects being brought to her door.
Much like the rest of her filmography, Amazon Prime’s new Christmas romance Something from Tiffany’s isn’t exactly awards-caliber, but it does hint at a possible career path for Deutch should she so choose: a star of big-ticket Hollywood romantic comedies, this generation’s answer to the likes of Julia Roberts and Meg Ryan. It’s not simply that Deutch has charisma to burn and true screen presence, but her earnest though still effortless commitment to the role itself, creating an emotional connection with the viewer that makes it impossible not to both identify with and root for her. Something from Tiffany’s asks a lot of Deutch, mainly to add some sort of depth to a film that could barely withstand a stiff wind, so inconsequential are the actions present within its brief 85-minute runtime. Yet Deutch perseveres with such refinement and easy amiability that it’s hard not to get caught up in the proceedings, shallow though they are.
Deutch stars as Rachel Meyer, a New York City baker and café owner with a real douchebag of a boyfriend, Gary (Ray Nicholson). In the film’s opening moments, Gary has made his way to the titular bougie jewelry store to buy something “nice, but cheap” for his partner, which should tell the viewer everything they need to know about the guy, as should the casting of Nicholson, son of Jack, whose mug bears the permanent visage of “smug asshole.” Also visiting Tiffany’s simultaneously is Ethan (Kendrick Sampson), a handsome struggling author who, with tween daughter Daisy (Leah Jeffries) in tow, is purchasing an engagement ring for long-time girlfriend Vanessa (Shay Mitchell), a woman who practically defines the phrase “high maintenance.” In Gary’s rush to see Rachel — dude is always late, which is also shorthand for jerk — he is hit by a car outside of the store, with Ethan and Daisy coming to his aid. What no one realizes in all of the commotion, though, is that the duo have accidentally swapped shopping bags — of course they have — which makes the following Christmas morning quite an adventure, as Rachel is now engaged to Gary, and Vanessa wonders why Ethan has such cheap taste.
The bulk of the film consists of Ethan desperately trying to get the ring back without alerting Rachel to the snafu, fearful of hurting her feelings by alerting her that her boyfriend is a lying thief. Naturally, Rachel and Ethan develop something akin to feelings for each other, as they spend time doing such romantic things as eating bread and looking at the Hudson River. It’s to the credit of screenwriter Tamara Chestna — adapting Melissa Hill’s 2017 best-selling novel of the same name — that neither Rachel nor Ethan outright pursue a romance that seems ordained by fate itself. Indeed, both are fully committed to their partners, Rachel to an almost psychotic degree, constantly defending Gary’s actions and forgiving him of his heinous transgressions. Ethan, meanwhile, just wants to do right by his daughter, who is still recovering from the death of her mother years earlier. It’s not that he doesn’t love Vanessa; he just wishes she was more supportive of his career path. Plus, her hatred of New York is quite distasteful to a city-lover such as himself. Yes, Something from Tiffany’s is one of those romances that is also a postcard of New York City itself, each and every shot looking like it was pre-approved by the city’s tourism bureau. Director Daryl Wein is no stranger to highlighting the particular character of this bustling metropolis, having indulged similar romanticizing with 2012’s Lola Versus.
But Tiffany’s marks a bit of a departure for the filmmaker in that this is his first studio film, having helmed a number of modestly received indies over the past decade-plus. And in what could be a first, Wein reveals that he is much more adept at glossy Hollywood fare than so-called low-budget passion projects, which proved only how flat and lifeless films could be. Indeed, Wein finds his soul in the utterly soulless hell known as streaming — and with a Christmas flick at that — an irony that would certainly make for an ingenious plot for some future indie naval-gazer. Unlike in the director’s previous work, populated by stock indie types, this latest effort makes an admirable effort to humanize even the main duo’s love interests, which is a surprising and appreciated gesture for this kind of caricature-driven sub-genre, but it’s not enough to help viewers get past the surface deficiencies that render those two unworthy by minute two. The film also shies away from the narrative convolutions that can make a film like this feel tedious rather than brisk — so little actually happens in Something at Tiffany’s, allowing Deutch and Sampson to simply be a pair of likeable individuals who get to walk around breathtaking backgrounds while fake snow falls. When it comes to audience expectations and a little old-fashioned wish fulfillment, you could do much worse. Imperfect and shallow though things may be, resistance is pretty futile with Something from Tiffany’s, even for this curmudgeon of a critic.
You can currently stream Daryl Wein’s Something from Tiffany‘s on Amazon Prime Video.