The Breakfast Club Reviews
Five teenagers, each from different socials group, attend detention on a Saturday at Shermer High School in Illinois. Claire Standish, Molly Ringwald, is the pretty, popular girl, Allison Reynolds, Ally Sheedy, is the outcast, Andrew Clark, Emilio Estevez, is the jock under immense pressure from his father, Brian Johnson, Anthony Michael Hall, is the depressed nerd and John Bender, Judd Nelson, is the philosophical bad boy who pushes the others to open up to one another. Principal Vernon, Paul Gleeson, is the main antagonist that the teenagers are able to unite against and the friendly janitor Carl Reed, John Kapelos, encourages them to bond.
Each character is immediately introduced as exactly what most people see them as. In just a couple of seconds Hughes shows that Claire is a spoilt brat who usually spends her Saturday elsewhere and Bender is a delinquent with a wild streak. We make these assumptions, which Hughes plays on later, because these introductions are so specific and so identifiable in everyday life that we look at people in our own high schools or workplaces in the same way. I immediately felt myself leaning towards being an Allison but as Claire revealed her backstory I also began to relate to her, much like The Wages of Fear (1953) this film proves that nobody is just anything. Everything about them, from their dialogue to the way they dress feels so right to how we imagine a brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess and a criminal.
The idea of teenagers projecting different images to who they really are seems obvious now but films about teenagers before this film don't seem able to articulate this idea in the same way. Yes, we hear about Brian's suicide attempt and the physical abuse that Bender faces in the same scene and one by one they all make their confessions but it is written to feel natural and the teenagers speak with character so you ignore the exposition. Everyone can relate to one of these characters to some degree, I relate to Allison, which makes the film universally engaging and the treatment of them as more than just stereotypes prevents the film from feeling as though it is pandering to a certain audience.
The final scene of Bender and Claire kissing is one that gives me all of the feels as the combination of "Don't You Forget About Me" by Simple Minds playing and the imagery of Claire's earring in Bender's glove is meaningful in a strange way. The idea of two opposites attracting is naturally romantic but Bender taking something from Claire that goes against his tough guy persona so completely shows just how crazy about her he is. The reading of the letter and fist pump after this are also deservedly iconic but almost every section of this film is near perfect in execution. Even the shots of the five of them smoking marijuana in the library feel as though they have been very specifically staged by Hughes to represent the shifting allegiances of the characters. His attention to detail creates these beautiful moments and suggestions of development in these kids who are simply looking for themselves in a world that doesn't support them.
I really love this film and I think I will feel the same way in twenty or thirty years just for different reasons. Despite being 34 years old the film is still more in touch with youths than any of the high school films being released today and it is a wonderful testament to Hughes' ability that he was able to direct a timeless classic.
A naked blond walks into a bar.....
Aside from St. Elmo's Fire and Pretty In Pink, this formed the triumvirate of the must-watch teen flick from the 80's. And like the other older films I've watched recently, this is my first time to see this. This was a slow brew but kinda picked up towards the end. Each of the leads had their own unique charm, which is definitely the reason why many people look back to this decade and have this film as a must-see.