St. Elmo's Fire (1985)
Like most people who grew up in the 80s, John Hughes' films, and consequently the Brat Pack, had a significant influence on my early film education, so when I became aware of this movie, I wanted to see it. I quickly realized it wasn't the same type of film as the JHughes films, but I still loved it. I guess it was the first time I really fell in love with a movie that consisted of complex storylines and focused on multiple characters. Re-watching it, even knowing the dark undertone of the film, I never expected to relate so much to this film.
I didn't seek out another Once More, but it happened almost as soon as P57 ended. I always remembered loving this movie, and remembered the climax of the dramatically beautiful shots of the bedroom with Demi Moore and the cold air. I remembering connecting to one character back then because I've always felt a bit lost, but now I connect to all of them.
The funniest thing to me was one line Moore said, "I never thought I would be so tired at 22." 22, these people are 22-23! I'm 30 something (OMG, I need to watch that show) and I connect to all of them; the one who's in love with the unattainable, the one chasing the career, the one who hasn't grown up, the social worker, the one lost in youth, the one who is confused on their next step, the one who is fighting to find herself, and the one who is living a dream world. I mean, I know that the 30s are the new 20s, but it has never been more apparent than in this film.
In a weird way, it's comforting knowing that I'm not the only one that feels stuck in their current position. That almost everyone in the middle of the the major portions of life still feels a bit uncertain. You have this goal to be put together and settled by the time you graduate from college, when in reality it's kind of a lofty dream. You're just beginning your life at that point, on your own for the first time traveling down the road of your own making, of course you're going to be lost and alone.
What I loved about SEF was that it showed different people in different paths along that journey. Not one person was in the same place, even if they all graduated at the same time and presumably experienced the same things (within reason) in college. it's so hard not to compare yourself to your friends, with the expectation that you should be as settled as they seem to be, but in actuality no one knows the the F they are doing. You look at the one who is has the career and the true love, but they are struggling to find their identity in both. Or the one who is having the fun and carefree life we wish we could still have, yet he's tired of being lonely even if he's surrounded by people. We don't know what's going on beneath the surface, hell we hardly know what's going on with ourselves, we can't assume the grass is greener on the other side.
I never thought that a Brat Pack movie from the 80s would be so relevant and connective as SEF is for me right now. I mean, I literally texted one of my good friends today that I felt my "middle" was a huge globby mess. It's true that a lot of the situations were too adult for the preteen me to fully understand, but it's in the re-watching moments like these that you realize how many true gems there was in the fog of the past film generation. There are some movies that you need to watch at a certain time in your life, and I think I finally watched St. Elmo's Fire when I was supposed to.
Written by Lisa Mejia