Prelude: I won’t even dare call this a film review for it is nowhere near that. Just thought I’d make an appreciation post for one of my favorite movies, St. Elmo’s Fire, which I watched again last night. I liked it better when I first watchedt i about five years ago, but I know this movie will always have a special place in my heart.
Also: Major spoilers ahead so don’t say you haven’t been warned.
St. Elmo’s Fire is a 1985 film about a group of friends who just graduated college and each of whom are trying to transition into “adulthood.”
As tight as their friendship is, their personalities couldn’t be more diverse. Kevin is the brooding cynical writer, Wendy is the shy and kind rich man’s daughter who’s in love with the saxophone player Billy who couldn’t seem to get out of trouble. Alec is the straight-A student leader and his girlfriend Leslie is the motivated artist. Jules is a go-getter, wild and fearless young woman, and Kirby is the hopeless romantic.
If you haven’t seen the movie, you’re probably wondering why the title is such. Billy explained it beautifully:
Jules, y’know, honey… this isn’t real. You know what it is? It’s St. Elmo’s Fire. Electric flashes of light that appear in dark skies out of nowhere. Sailors would guide entire journeys by it, but the joke was on them… there was no fire. There wasn’t even a St. Elmo. They made it up. They made it up because they thought they needed it to keep them going when times got tough, just like you’re making up all of this. We’re all going through this. It’s our time at the edge.
Coming-of-age is one of my favorite genres be it in books or movies. There’s just something so universal in getting disillusioned, jaded, and yet eventually, against all odds, still being hopeful.
As I was watching the movie last night, I kept screencapping my favorite scenes because I know I want to keep them together and sort of place them under one roof. Allow me to share them with you.
Kevin is my favorite character. Major spoiler: He’s secretly in love with Leslie.
Okay Kevin, I really like you, but I refuse to believe that love sucks, thank you very much. Even Kirby agrees with me.
Wendy has the biggest heart among the group. She works for the social services department and refuses to let her father talk her into marrying a potential business partner of his. She also stands by her decision to move out of their grand mansion and live in a tiny apartment where she could really grow. I love her. Even when she sometimes feel rotten (like me).
Billy is a tough sexy man on the surface, but deep inside he’s just a lost boy who probably feels like the best years of his life are over now that school is done. Guys like him are like the textbook trap for girls – everybody wants to save the lost guy. Wendy sees through Billy and even encourages him to come to terms with the fact that he misses school.
For all his bad boy charm, Billy knows there’s no excuse for screwing up time after time.
I think Jules speaks for all of us.
Flawed as he is, you just can’t help but forgive him. Even though he doesn’t directly apologize.
And now we come to the part where Kevin confesses his feelings for Leslie. I now believe that all hidden feelings cannot remain hidden forever. Get ready for some Andrew McCarthy cuteness overload.
Well, how do you even respond to that, right? Um, they slept together. But did I mention that prior to Kevin’s confession, Leslie broke up with Alec because she found out he’s been screwing some other girl?
But of course Alec found out about Kevin and Leslie and he was utterly devastated and flaring mad.
It also didn’t work between Leslie and Kevin because they didn’t want the same things. Or because Kevin was so in love with her, and she clearly did not feel the same way.
Over to Jules who is having, according to Billy, some self-inflicted drama.
I love Billy because he just proved that even though he’s the one who constantly needs rescuing from all the trouble he finds himself into, he’s also capable of saving other people and being there for those who matter.
Towards the end of the movie, Billy decided to pursue a music career in New York. He and Wendy had a beautiful goodbye.
As for our favorite trio, all’s well that ends well 🙂
Cue Leslie’s voice-over:
“I can’t remember who met who first, or who fell in love with who first. All I can remember is the seven of us always together.”