With no true antagonist, a simple plot and a nostalgic feel throughout, “The Breakfast Club” is not a film for everyone. It has a different structure to other films, especially contemporary genre types, but it works. A good different but different non-the-less.
A personal recount of 80’s childhood, director John Hughes manages to convey multiple messages with a simple premise, outlining the lives and troubles of 5 different school stereotypes as they fill time within a Saturday detention slot. Set within a strict timescale (of 9 hours) and told within one location (the school in which the students reside) “The Breakfast Club” explores the components of society in a narrative solely driven by character study and development.
Held for a variety of different offences within a detention facility at school, five school archetypes are brought together with the simple instruction of writing an account of what they believe themselves to be. A beauty, a jock, a recluse, a nerd and a rebel make up the filmic components that drive the narrative through its many revelations and emotional turmoil. Aside from two adult characters – that intersect the plot at various points – the film focuses entirely on the group as they develop from individual components into a flawed but working group unit.
With this being the films true narrative, Hughes manages to express many moments of true filmmaking class in what is quite simply a retelling of past youth, and broken innocence. By centring the components of his film on a mixed selection of children the film manages to convey an emotionally charged spearhead of development through the eyes of those bared witness too.
With a simple premise, the film is able to explore the relationships effectively throughout. However, the this draws issues upon itself. For the pacing is not quick, with the slow drip of exposition occurring at a speed that in places – particularly at the beginning – allows boredom to seep into the eyes of the beholder. With this slow pace, and no real plot thread to follow – except the aforementioned development of the five children – the film slowly becomes a chore to enjoy, instead relying on past acclaim to drive home its appeal. The end also disappoints, with Hollywood’s need to pair up its cast taking away the component of togetherness that the development of the characters has resulted within. With the characters realised by a collection of the 80’s brat pack (Emilio Estevez, Anthony Michael Hall, Judd Nelson, Ally Sheedy and Molly Ringwald all feature within this film), the characters are easily presented onscreen in perfectly cast character roles that lift the film into an engrossing homage to coming off age dramas.
Reliant on its dense script to bring about the films true meaning, the narrative is broken up by a variety of different soundtrack choices – which the film has since become acclaimed for. Bookended by the Simple Minds classic “Don’t You Forget About Me”, “The Breakfast Club” feels very much a drawback to the 80’s – when watched in a modern context. Similar to other films from around this time, the narrative is fully realised in a timeless aesthetic that works. The soundtracks adds to this and causes the films quieter moments to hold meaning.
The film really draws on audience nostalgia in every aspect of its filmmaking decisions.This nostalgia resonates in the easy comparison audiences will draw to the variety of characters that are discovered onscreen. It is within this comparison that similarities between filmic vision and real life are found, drawing a level of depth into the mature themes that the film somewhat explores; broken families, educational pressures and teenage troubles. John Hughes really strives his film into exploring relatable aspects of life, which due to their quality of exploration save the film from failing in its lacking of plot.
Plot – 3
Acting – 3
Direction – 4
Effects – 3
Retrospect – 4