Far more familiar to audiences as an actor than a director at this early point of his career, Eastwood’s 1973 Breezy marks a further brave move for the budding career: his opting to solely direct and forgo the benefit of his acting stardom.
A free spirited counter-cultural youth, Breezy is a girl who cruises through life with whatever resources she can manage to encounter. Fleeing the car of a man attempting to take sexual advantage of her, she finds herself at the home of middle-aged real-estate agent Frank Harmon, and each gradually comes to be attracted to the other.
A man becoming ever more known for his roles as tough western heroes, Eastwood’s decision to direct a film that he not only would not star in, but would be a romance, must have come as a surprise to many. His debut, Play Misty for Me, was of course itself a romance film, subversive though it was, and one which Eastwood safely captained, cementing his position as a top emerging director as well as a star capable of taking on more than just one set type of role. Nevertheless, the concept of something like Breezy coming from someone like Eastwood can’t help but prompt one to raise an eyebrow. A well-known star in the autumn of his career, William Holden was at this time no stranger to roles as romantic lead, though his age had seen few of these come his way in recent years. Her first significant role, Kay Lenz was almost entirely unknown, a young girl faced with the monumental task of sharing the stage with one of Old Hollywood’s biggest stars. Both rise to the task expertly, the respective cynicism of age and vibrancy of youth combining to create a wonderful chemistry wherein one completely buys the slow romance of these wholly different people. Frank is a functional member of society—albeit a divorced, lonely, and embittered one—while Breezy seems to stand entirely against it. Her clothing is colourful and lively, his gray and drab. She is a sociable, friendly, and cheery character, he a loner who seems content to recede into his hilltop home (Eastwood places Holden with the cold, foreboding sea in the background and Lenz with jubilant crowds behind her to emphasise this, a wonderfully subtle directorial touch). It is the differences between these characters which draw them to each other, and indeed us to them and their courtship. Their relationship, despite its unlikeliness, is entirely believable and endearing, encouraging us to root for them and will them together. Naturally difficulties are encountered along the way in this story, the film teases us and never quite allows the characters to connect as completely as we’d like, and the emotions we invest are played with.
An unconventional love story which examines other issues such as counter-culturalism and the slow drudgery of ageing, Breezy is a surprising film from a director establishing an impressive second career to defy expectations. Demonstrating himself to be as skilled behind the camera as he is before, Eastwood gives us an engaging and interesting romance that draws us in with the charisma of its leads.
[notification type=”star”]65/100 – An unconventional love story which examines other issues such as counter-culturalism and the slow drudgery of ageing, Breezy is a surprising film from a director establishing an impressive second career to defy expectations.[/notification]