Reckless (1984)

Genres - Drama, Romance  |   Sub-Genres - Romantic Drama, Teen Movie  |   Run Time - 90 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - R
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Reckless is not consistently successful but it is consistently interesting. The story feels like the grittier, more melodramatic flipside to the John Hughes films of the same early-1980's era. It is no less of a fantasy than those films due to its reliance on familiar archetypes (the rebel without a cause, the good girl who wants to break out of her shell, etc.) but the Chris Columbus script has fun toying with those archetypes and trying to give them a modern dramatic edge. For the first half of the film, it works: the young lovers are believably awkward when trying to express their feelings or grasp towards adult life and the film has a refreshing frankness about sex and the complexities of teen mating rituals. However, the second half of the story loses focus and succumbs to the clich├ęs it was once playing with (including a rather hokey ending). That said, Reckless remains watchable for teen-drama fans thanks to its style and performances. The sleek cinematography by Michael Ballhaus creates an arresting, stylized look that draws the viewer in because it is atypical for this kind of drama, creating a mood that is nicely supported by the soundtrack's mix of early 1980's radio fare and new wave-style soundtrack cues. James Foley's direction offsets this stylization with a sometimes feverish emotional intensity: highlights include a scene where the camera spins around the film's central couple as they cut loose at a school dance and a wish-fulfillment sequence where they run loose in the school late at night. Foley also gets strong performances from his leads: Aidan Quinn brings the right mixture of attitude and uncertainty to his rebellious hero role and Daryl Hannah's performance brings a winning quirkiness to her "good girl" role. The end result is flawed but intriguing: Reckless sometimes stumbles but its singular approach lingers in the memory.