Pretty in Pink by John Hugues

It must have been a wonderful thing to be part of this film when it was an event. Being born in the eighties, thus being a child of the mid-90’s, I missed my chance to let this enter me as a teen. But I can watch it now, and it is strangely enriching.

Hugues set the cinematic framework for our modern teen movies. Except that today every element has to be as excessive as possible. One thing is that the girls are less prude. In fact, the sex appeal is unashamedly blunt. So when you go back to see this, it is charming rathen than contrived.

Of course, the pull here is Molly. She is not particularly pretty since she is supposed to be a nerd, but watch her create the world around her. Even her dad is seduced here. Part of the reason she stands up to Blaine pretty quickly. Nowadays you would have the girl be sad and the guy make the “right” choice about superficial vs. real values. Not so here, it’s the guy who succumbs. The focus is on Molly asserting her sovereign state.

You can count four guys falling for her (her dad, Blaine, Duckie, and Spader).

I think everybody should see this, along with Sixteen Candles. Molly stopped her rise to fame short after this film. She went on to work with Godard (who has a lot of good intuition about female screen presence), and Greenaway in one of his most elaborate projects (still ungoing). It’s stupid to be nostalgic about this, but it has a nature that suspends it over every current teen flick. A lot of screenwriters start with this in mind when they begin a teen script. But of course, they never follow through. Ah well, at least we can measure competence by comparing supposedly similar archetypes. Just think of Leigh in “She’s All That” and this here. One is purposely ironic (for financial purposes), the other is sincere.

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Categories: Notes

2 replies »

  1. In contrast it is very easy to see that Hughes held some dear values. “She’s All That” is about the sex, which makes it about the money. That is dishonest because the idea behind the story makes it seem it’s about values. Cooke is not nerdy only because she wears glasses. Not to take anything from our wonderful Molly but sex appeal is hardly nowhere near her.

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