This was always going to be my 100th post to mirror my blog title and to give this brilliant film some degree of a milestone. A diamond of the film world, this film is just near perfection and hits its stride with character and storytelling with such comfort. It’s a fantastic coming of age narrative and one of the most famous and best movies to come out of the 1980’s.
The plot sees five students classified as specific cliqued characters from Shermer High report for a detention on Saturday morning. March 24th 1984 to be precise and it will be a morning that they won’t forget. Each student comes with a significant high school personality and at first can be deemed to have nothing in common but as the detention and punishments from principal Richard Vernon (Paul Gleason) go on they strike up friendships and mutual feelings to question who they or society really thinks they are.
It is still such a great film and even though the look and fashion may come across as ’80s, the themes and heart of this movie are still very relatable to this day. It’s fantastically written and moulded into the ultimate high school story by the teen character-conjurer-supremo-god…. (and I could go on) John Hughes. He manages to conjure up a sincere and and comic exploration of teenage life and that still feels fresh now. It comes to the screen with that quintessential 80’s vibe and oozes with confidence, cool and charisma. There is no denying that Hughes manages to spark up a massive amount of attitude in this believably scripted characters. The writing in general is just so real and you understand the set up and segregations of high school drama. Even as a non US citizen the translation is never lost and you can still grasp the mood of this American setting and cliques, bullying and school detentions are something that everyone can comprehend and relate to.
‘The Breakfast Club’ shows how with a pretty small cast and relatively low budget of $1 million that a film of excellence can be achieved. Unlike a lot of films now that deal with sprawling casts and extravagant budgeting figures this doesn’t need all that and it deals nicely with the simple premise of finding who you are. The idea of identity is a universal one and this 1985 movie demonstrates that focusing on a gifted story can make for better more long standing filmmaking than films that try hard to utilise too much CGI and the like. It truly is clever writing on Hughes part as you watch the action unfold and start aligning yourself to certain characters in that room. He has a knack for writing with an engaging style that as an audience you think about who you may possibly be in that school library. Though by the end it is important to realise that it doesn’t really matter who you may be or who you’d be labelled as, as it matters who you want to be and not what others tell you that you are. This is the main and whole purpose of this film and it communicates that message well and it’s a great message to endorse anyway so thank goodness it features in one of the all time films ever made.
The five young leads of this film carry the progressing story effortlessly and they make it so easy to start connecting to them at certain points. Emilio Estevez, Anthony Michael Hall, Judd Nelson, Molly Ringwald and Ally Sheedy work as a unit to great effect that the humour and emotion of the movie becomes affecting. They play the parts they’ve been named by school with conviction and you believe that facade at first but then underneath layers and faked bravado you see more of their true natures and that’s where the more interesting dynamics come into fold as they make unexpected friendships. They enter as ‘The Jock’, ‘The Brain’, ‘The Criminal’, ‘The Princess’ and ‘The Kook/Basket Case’ but that isn’t how they actually want to seen even if they’ve become used to being seen that way and playing that part. The John Hughes influence of outside forces damning central characters lies with these five having parental presence crushing them in expecting so much that it becomes hard for them to break out of their moulds. In this idea Hughes creates another thing that surely all of us can relate to.
The soundtrack may not be as memorable as other films of the time but Simple Minds classic song, ‘Don’t You (Forget About Me) serves the theme of the movie really superbly and who can deny that ‘We Are Not Alone’ serving as the backing track for the dance break is outstanding. It might be cheesy and 80’s cringe music but the dancing is fun and you can clearly see that the five detentioned souls are having a blast.
It’s a great movie I believe and it’s funny, smart and emotional. The painting masterminded by Hughes of pain and outside influences bringing the five kids down is wonderfully setup. It’s a bonding experience too and by the ending you can’t help but somehow feel that you’ve been spending time in that library with them. That memorable high school library can be deemed as a playground, a confessional hall, a place to experiment and a location to find yourself in but most of all it is home to The Breakfast Club and that title will never change.