What a beautiful movie!
A different way of telling a story
It's a good bad... and worth a popcorn matinée. While it's easy to lament what could have been...
It is encouraging that the film ends so strongly.Otherwise, it wouldn't have been a particularly memorable film
This is my favorite movie, and has been since about 1983, when I first saw it. Want a movie that's not schmaltzy, but has lots of good, real-life realities and lessons? This is for you. Want to see Dennis Quaid, Daniel Stern, and Dennis Christopher as young actors? This is for you. Want to see life in the late 1970s in a small, but not backward, town--what it was like for those who weren't doing drugs and getting drunk? This is for you. This movie chronicles four guys who've just graduated from Bloomington High (Bloomington, IN, in which the whole film was shot), who've made a pact not to work or do anything for a year. This movie is about growing up, about class divisions between the college-educated and the blue-collar (Bloomington is the home of Indiana University, which plays a big role in the film), and about coming to grips with who you are and what's important in life. This is a sweet, sweet (but not corny or feel-good) movie. Yet, it's not tragic. It's just a very good picture of slice of life as a kid (an old kid) in a safe town. Many lines from this movie summarize truths of life, and I've quoted the movie from the mid-'80s to today. Just watched it again (August 2014), and was once again refreshed. A gem of a movie, indeed.
Breaking Away is a movie which certainly has its charms. But it's a case where the movie's reputation slightly outstrips reality. It's one of those movies which isn't quite as good as people remember it as being. It won an Oscar for best screenplay but there's really nothing remarkable about the script. In fact the story is actually quite predictable and mundane, with some rather corny dialogue to boot. It's a movie which follows a well-worn formula, the underdogs striving to make good. And you can see the obstacles the main character will face, and the reasons for his eventual disillusionment, coming a mile away. There's never really any great drama, you know where the movie's headed.But just because the movie is predictable doesn't mean it can't be reasonably enjoyable. It's the story of four teens, just graduated high school and trying to find their path in life. But it's the story of one of the four which is at the heart of the film. Dave Stoller is obsessed with bicycle racing. Italian bicycle racing to be specific. He Italianizes his life, much to the consternation of his father. Meanwhile he and his directionless friends have run-ins with the college kids and it all comes to a head in a bicycle race. Well, points for originality there I suppose. Not many movies have a bicycle race as the big, dramatic climax. The movie is hailed as being truly inspiring. That's a stretch. But when the movie ends you'll probably at least find yourself smiling. It's not riveting stuff all the way through, there are plenty of lulls. The movie does do enough to keep you interested though. Dennis Christopher does an excellent job in the role of Dave. Paul Dooley, playing Dave's father, is also memorable. The tug-of-war between these two characters produces many of the movie's highlights. The supporting cast features now familiar faces such as Dennis Quaid, Daniel Stern and Jackie Earle Haley. But it's really Christopher who must carry the movie. It's Dave's story. And it's a good story. Just not a great one.
This is definitely one of those films I never would of heard of without being in the book 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die, and it was also because of some good names in the cast and an award win, from Oscar and Golden Globe nominated director Peter Yates (Summer Holiday, Bullitt, The Deep). Basically best friends Dave Stoller (BAFTA winning, and Golden Globe nominated Dennis Christopher), Mike (The Day After Tomorrow's Dennis Quaid), Cyril (Home Alone's Daniel Stern) and Moocher (A Nightmare on Elm Street's Jackie Earle Haley) have all just graduated from high school in Bloomington, Indiana. They are all deciding what to do next in their lives, but until then they spend a lot of their time swimming in an old abandoned water-filled quarry, and they clash with Indiana University students. Dave, who has a passion for Italian music and the culture, which concerns his father Ray (Paul Dooley), has an obsession with competitive bicycle racing, his mother Evelyn (Oscar nominated Barbara Barrie) is very supportive of these things. Dave has a crush on university student Katherine (Robyn Douglass) and puts on an Italian accent to romance her, but she is does already have boyfriend Rod (Hart Bochner), and he has his gang beat up Cyril after mistaken identity. Soon after this there is the announcement a professional Italian cycling team coming to town for a racing event, and Dave is keen to participate as well, but the team cause to get depressed after a crash. He does come back, and he gets support from his father, and after some incidents in the race Dave has his feet taped to his bicycle pedals, Moocher, Cyril and Mike all watch in hope, and on the last lap he overtakes Rod to win the race, and after the trophy glory he decides he'll enrol at the university. Also starring Amy Wright as Nancy, Peter Maloney as Doctor and Halloween's P.J. Soles as Suzy. Christopher is a talented young leading character, Quaid, Stern and Haley who would all go on to bigger things do really well as they are young as well, and in her scenes I can see why Barrie was nominated an award, the material that would inspire the Brat Pack genre are all amusing, the cycling scenes are good watching, and the dialogue is witty and also sensitive, so all in all it is a likable comedy sports drama. It won the Oscar for Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen, and it was nominated for Best Music for Patrick Williams and Best Picture, and it won the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture - Musical/Comedy, and it was nominated for Best Screenplay. Good!
We now have more than a decade of reviews on IMDb of Breaking Away, going back to 1998, enough to conclude, as do many of the reviewers, that this is a classic that has passed the test of time. I would dare say that there will be viewers watching and loving this film 10, 20, 50, 100 years from now. Its theme and message transcend time.Breaking Away was popular when it came out. It was mentioned in three different college classes within the context of the professor's lecture to illustrate a point. So don't underestimate the depth of concept of this film. It effortlessly works on many different levels, and different people see different things in it. You need to watch it carefully, more than once, to appreciate this. But it has become somewhat forgotten, a sleeper. However, tears come to my eyes when I think about one of the key messages, explained by the father, after Dave's encounter with the Italian team. It has proved all too true, with the result that the America of 1979 is crumbling around us. In short, if you haven't seen this movie, watch it. If you don't own it, buy it, because you will want to watch it again, perhaps even 10 or 20 years from now. I've been watching it now and then for more than 30 years.Jackie Earle Haley, who plays Moocher, was also in Bad News Bears, the original with Walter Matthau. He has some pretty funny lines. --- On a bicycling note, I happened to find a mint condition Ciocc Itallian racing bicycle from around this period with full Campagnola components and sew on tires. It was a dream to ride, far more agile, yet stable, than my other expensive road bikes. I can see why Dave developed a love affair with his bike. What I learned is that a well-maintained drive train is nearly silent, at least using modern dry lube. Yet in the movie you can always hear the chain and gears grinding away, especially in the group scene with the Italians. It makes me wonder if bikes back then were really so noisy. Or whether the director or foley man thought too much silence would seem unrealistic to viewers used to cheap bikes, so they added in gear noise.Also, it becomes amusingly apparent, on close viewing, that Dave is in a very low gear moving slowly, pumping and huffing away, when he appears to be tearing down the road. But most people don't notice this. The bottom line is this movie often inspires an impulse to get a road bike, and this is a good thing if you have some relatively quiet roads to go long distances, like Dave. On terrain like in the movie, many people could ride 50 or more miles in a day once you get into condition, but with a road or comfort bike, not a mountain bike. It's a great form of recreation. Go for it!