The Breakfast Club (1985)

Right, for the first two things for me to admit about this film. 1) The reason behind watching this film was because of ‘Pitch Perfect’, I can’t be the only one! 2) I cried the first time I watched this. Not sure why, but it gets a bit emotional at times. Ok, now that is out the way…

Moving onto the actual film now. ‘The Breakfast Club’ is based around five students who have to spend nine hours at Saturday detention at their school library, they have to sit in silence not moving or anything, of course this doesn’t happen. Each student has their own unique reason why they are there, but are all equally ashamed of it. They all come from different friendship groups, therefore don’t see each other’s perspectives and instead jump to stereotypical conclusions. This film is about fighting those stereotypes and proving that each student can learn something from each of them. Each character has their own worries and troubles that none of the others appreciate, but as the film progresses they try to learn. But it’s not as boring as I’ve stated it, they insult each other, act out, argue, and laugh.

The Breakfast Club - Allison and Claire

The first student is the “brain” Brian (Anthony Michael Hall), who struggles under pressure from his parents over grades. Alike Brian, but with sports is the “athlete” Andrew (Emilio Estevez). Then there’s the weird “basket case” who doesn’t speak much, Allison (Ally Sheedy). Also, the “princess” Claire (Molly Ringwald) who lives in a world of popularity. Then finally is the loudest student, the one who acts out at everything, the “criminal” Bender (Judd Nelson). It’s John Bender’s character that I find most interesting. To say he is a complex character would be an understatement. I feel torn in how I’m supposed to react to this character, at times I support what he is saying or feel sorry for him and recognise he has a difficult life, but other times I don’t understand his harshness and constant aggressive insults to some of the others who don’t deserve it. Bender is continuously put into detention which he openly admits as “knowing what he is doing”. He describes his home life which is a powerful, emotional scene for the audience, letting them understand why he acts the way he does, especially that he acts out angrily to everything. All of the characters have this moment of realisation and desperation, portraying their troubles of being a teenager, each so different, yet cleverly all are done to leave an impression on the audience. One of the characters I feel quite sympathetic towards is Brian, I feel he is very emotionally open and just wants to be liked by all, he eventually comes to say everything he believes which I find so truthful.

The Breakfast Club - Brian

This film is very much based on teenagers and is revolved around how their troubles bother them and how all teenagers have their own issues to deal with. Whereas, the teacher in this film, Richard Vernon (Paul Gleason), I find is painted in a bad light, especially in the way he talks to Bender when on their own. The audience witnesses Bender at his weakness and automatically feels sorry for him. Even if there are brief moments portraying Vernon as having some difficulties of his own, they are not highlighted by the director in a way for the audience to consider his problems but in fact uses it as a slight comedic element in a way. Additionally, all the parents in this film, even if they are not shown or have hardly any screen time, are seen in a bad light too; especially from what all the teenagers are saying. This highlights that the teenagers are clearly the stars of ‘The Breakfast Club’ and shown in a better light even if portraying their flaws and weaknesses.

The Breakfast Club - all five

‘The Breakfast Club’ does have some comedic elements. There are many moments where they turn and stare at one another as they’re not used to each other’s lifestyles; this becomes quite funny. Also some insults and comebacks are cleverly used to be quite humorous, when they aren’t so aggressive. Additionally, when the students are trying to escape being caught from Vernon. There are many moments in the film that are meant to be feel-good moments as well. However, I wouldn’t say this film is a comedy, it’s not something that has you constant laughing. I feel it’s more a moralistic kind of film to portray pressures of all teenagers, but in a nice to watch kind of way. I wouldn’t say the film is depressing, even if there are some emotional scenes. It is cleverly done by the director.

Something to mention is the music, or perhaps the lack of. Silence is cleverly and continuously used in this film. Because this film is set in one day and some scenes feel considerably longer than others, silence and only non-diegetic sound is needed. It creates the mood for the five students, of awkwardness or just getting used to each other. It’s also clever that the music that is used mostly doesn’t have any lyrics, again just creating a mood for the audience to feel. ‘The Breakfast Club’ is known for ‘Don’t You (Forget About Me)’ by Simple Minds. A great song I might add. It is used at the beginning and the ending of the film and is great to sum up the things the students have learnt and that they’ve all made an impression on each other, even if all in different friendship groups, or ‘cliques’ some may say.

The Breakfast Club - Bender

Overall, I really do like this film, however perhaps it’s an acquired taste I’m not sure. Because of the extensive use of silence and the fact it’s all about one Saturday might feel different for keen modern Hollywood watchers. Although, this doesn’t make it a bad film, it’s a nice feel-good film to watch and I would recommend it. Just one last thing to mention is that it is a 15 and for good reason, there is drug use, references to sex and also quite a bit of swearing. But anyway, join ‘The Breakfast Club’ at Saturday detention. They don’t just sit in silence like they’re supposed to…

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