Sunday, May 15, 2016

The Breakfast Club

The Breakfast Club; comedy / drama, USA, 1985; D: John Hughes, S: Emilio Estevez, Judd Nelson, Molly Ringwald, Anthony Michael Hall, Ally Sheedy, Paul Gleason

Five different high school students are sent to endure a detention in school at Saturday. Using the absence of their supervisor, Richard, the decide to communicate to each other: Claire comes from a wealthy family; Andrew is a wrestler who was punished for doing a prank to a helpless kid; intelligent Brian was busted for having a gun in his locker, since he wanted to commit suicide after getting an F; Allison is an outsider, and wears black; Bender is an aggressive kid who bullies everyone and was punished for pushing the fire alarm button. Despite their initial clash, especially towards Bender, the five teenagers gradually find common ground and grow in the process. After the end of the day, Bender and Claire decide to become a couple.

Director John Hughes' 2nd feature length film may just be his most widely recognised and popular one: "The Breakfast Club" uses his often stylistic choice of narrowing the time frame of the story to only one day, and - despite playing out only between five teenagers sitting during detention in school - contains a remarkably fluent story flow, which blend both relaxed comedy (Bender's remark to Richard's outfit: "Does Barry Manilow know you raid his wardrobe?"; Allison is so bored that she ties a thread around her index finger, and amusingly watches its lack of circulation turn blue for a while) and a more poignant character study with more dramatic moments in the second half - the highlight there is definitely Andrew's 4-minute long confession speech, in which he regrets his shameful prank against a helpless kid, while the camera slowly circles around him, which is virtuoso done and filmed in one take.

Hughes treats the teenage protagonists with a lot of respect and understanding, and avoids some cliches of the genre, thereby creating some wonderful characters, from the outcast Allison who wears black up to the gentle Claire. They also mirror some of teenage fears of growing up, especially the fear that they will lose some of their personality and innocence in the process, summed up brilliantly by Allison's quote: "When you grow up, your heart dies". However, these emotions are somewhat contaminated and ruined through the misguided character of Bender, who bullies everyone - a big mistake is that the movie missed a golden opportunity to have him actually undergo a transformation and regret his aggressive behaviour as much as it was done in Andrew's speech, since the fact that Claire would all of a sudden fall in love with him in the last 5 minutes of the film seems fake and sudden - as well as the disproportionate decision to put all the blame of all the problems of the five teenagers exclusively on their parents, whereas Hughes once again shows an uneven tendency to portrait the storyline in black and white (the grown ups, embodied in Richard, are treated negatively, whereas some of the teenagers, especially Bender, are white-washed and treated with apologetics), yet he still managed to craft a small, unassuming cult film which stood the test of time.


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