Isolation Spotlight: John Hughes
Hannah Rae proposes a John Hughes marathon for lockdown viewing
It may seem trivial to write an article placing the spotlight on a filmmaker such as John Hughes, who has brought to life international hits such as Home Alone and the Breakfast Club. Yet there are films, such as Uncle Buck, which are comparatively overlooked and their merits deserve attention. Besides, as someone who enjoys watching many of John Hughes’ films as much now as when I first watched them before the age of ten, it would ultimately feel an injustice for me to write about anyone else.
In a period where most of us feel trapped within the four walls of our homes, Hughes’ films offer an escape
Part of what sets Hughes apart is his ability to create a universally familiar portrait of everyday life, whilst also offering the escapism that makes his films so appropriate for lockdown viewing. The careful balance between the lightness of humour and a representation of the important issues people face allow people to feel seen and to realise the possibility of progression. It is made clear through the development of unlikely relationships in Hughes’ films that facing difficulties in life does not make one unworthy of connecting with others and finding joy; that humans are more alike than we are different; that we are ultimately more good than bad. Although Del in Planes, Trains and Automobiles is homeless and has lost his wife, he finds an alternative sense of family through his bond with Neal. Tia’s feeling of being misunderstood by her parents is counterbalanced by the understanding that Uncle Buck is deeply invested in her wellbeing.
In a period where most of us feel trapped within the four walls of our homes, Hughes’ films offer an escape: an opportunity to experience a suburban American youth alien to those of us who grew up in the UK; to revel in the 80s and 90s outfits and settings; to find relief in laughing with endearing characters. John Hughes was a gifted filmmaker whose films have stood the test of time for their universal warmth and audience scope, and it is for that reason that I recommend adding a few to your isolation watchlist.