To the naked eye Clint Eastwood is the Alpha Male. Gun toting, swearing, spitting, beard sporting, all American bravado comes in spades with The Man with No Name, Dirty Harry and the High Plains Drifter. So it’s safe to assume the last thing I expected from Eastwood’s third directorial outing is a happy-go-lucky tale of love found in unexpected places. Breezy is a sweet tale of a young flower child who can find love in even the most thick skinned of people, in this case the ‘traditional’ middle aged divorcee Frank.
The first time we see Breezy you’d be forgiven for thinking she’s a child. Sleeping lightly, hair spread over her face she looks the image of youth until a few seconds later she wakes up, sits up and shows us a pair of magnificently mature breasts, which certainly come as a bit of a shock. But first impressions are hard to shake and Breezy’s whole manner towards this insignificant bloke she’s apparently just slept with is so carefree and un-jaded that I wondered if she fully appreciated the significance of what she’s just done… either she’s so used to it she’s become desensitized or she’s so light-hearted she takes it all in her stride.
Anyway, a series of unfortunate events see her jumping into the car of Frank , a real estate agent, divorced and in love with another woman who is about to get married to someone who was ‘there for her’ like he never could be. Frank is naturally wary of Breezy and sceptical of her advances, although he can’t quite find it in him to send this breath of fresh air back onto the streets. As the film goes on the pair fall into a strange kind of love, despite a series of bumps which threaten to send them both back to their own uniquely solitude lives. If you’re thinking this is a ‘tale as old as time’ you’re along the right lines… the story is like a real life Beauty and the Beast set in the 1970s, even down to the descriptive names, Breezy and Frank, instead of Beauty and Beast.
Initially I have to admit I sympathize with Frank whose life is no longer his own from the second Breezy sweeps in through the door. She definitely works under the premise that ‘what’s mine is yours’ and vice versa, only Breezy has nothing except a beat up guitar and the clothes on her back. As such their relationship starts off very father/daughter like, with Frank giving her food and a roof over her head, and at one point even pretending to be her uncle. That is until he realizes that Breezy is resurfacing qualities in him which he’d thought long dead. In the middle of the film Breezy asks “won’t you let me love you, Frankie?” and surprising even to himself, he replies “Don’t you ever want to be loved back?”
I had my suspicions about Breezy, just as Frank did. But the real joy of this film is that it challenges everything I assumed about the two of them, and this is coming from someone in a relationship with a considerable age gap. I never believe her declarations of love for him until the very end when she drops her friends and old life and leaps into his arms without a moment’s hesitation. As for me, I am left with a mixture of guilt for doubting the two of them and happiness and warmth that these two misfits have found some brief contentment for a little while – “a year! Imagine what we can do in that long!” as Breezy puts it.
Breezy also raises subtle but important points about the everyday face of 1970s youth culture. Coming from a respectable background as he does, Frank is naturally disdainful of these flower children and there’s a wonderful moment early on in the film which just sums up his attitude towards them. Commenting on a group of youngsters loitering outside his office, one of Frank’s colleagues teases “what do you see out there?” to which Frank flatly replies “low tide.”
One of the stars of the film is its soundtrack which is pretty much restricted to just one song (or variations of it), aptly named “Breezy’s Song”. Please youtube it now, it’s absolutely beautiful and so evocative of Linda McCartney and the 1970s and all those lovely summer days you spent in Hyde Park running around the Serpentine. It makes such a nice change to see such a sparse soundtrack used and goes a long way towards giving the film its simple, honest feel. There are no decorations or flamboyancies, only Frank and Breezy and their love for one another. Aaw.
Although it’s really not my place, I’m proud of Clint Eastwood for making this film. It comes across as so basic but beneath the surface it’s constantly challenging every element we watch, even down to our perception of Eastwood himself. I went in with a slightly raised eyebrow and tendency to be dismissive and I came out warm-hearted and full of the joys of spring. What more could you ask out of a Sunday afternoon…