Francis Ford Coppola’s exploration of the souring of the American dream can be seen in this tale of 1960s teenage angst in which ‘Brat Pack’ regulars Rob Lowe, C Thomas Howell, Emilio Estevez and Tom Cruise first cut their teeth.
The Outsiders is not a classic by any means but even with its flaws, it retains a mythic status among its fan base and much like the film’s depiction of the Sixties as some kind of golden age, the idealised, phoney and cynical use of manufactured teen idols at the heart of the story still works.
The theme here is social mobility, or lack of it, for a group of poor, white working class teenagers and the sense of belonging they derive from being in a gang. Their frustration with their lot in life is amplified by antipathy towards the rich, privileged prep schoolers, known as the Socs, with whom they share a bitter rivalry. The acrimony is trivial and needless and when a fight erupts between the gangs, the consequences change the lives of all.
The beauty of The Outsiders is not in the performances, but in the excellent visual composition and cinematography coupled with Carmine Coppola’s score. It is a film of its time, but it is interesting viewing nonetheless.
Film of the day: The Outsiders – Tuesday at 10.00pm on London Live
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