Breaking Away

1979, Movie, PG, 100 mins


A delightful sleeper. Set in Bloomington, Indiana, and nominated for an Oscar for Best Picture (it lost to KRAMER VS. KRAMER), BREAKING AWAY is a very funny and touching story about love, growing up, bicycle racing, and class consciousness. Dave Stohler (Christopher) and three of his friends (Quaid, Stern, and Haley) are recent high-school graduates. More importantly, in the eyes of nearby Indiana University students, they are "cutters"--declasse Bloomington townies, so named because many of the locals earn their living cutting rock in limestone quarries. For a time, Stohler, an avid bicycle racer, immerses himself in an alternative identity, pretends to be Italian, and does his best to woo a college coed. After a team of real Italian bicycle racers comes to town and treats Stohler horribly, he discards his false identity but not his desire to prove himself the equal of the college students. He and his cutter buddies (who barely know one end of a racing bicycle from another) enter the university's "Little 500" bicycle race with suspenseful but not-so-surprising results at the film's uplifting finish. Tesich won an Oscar for his amusing screenplay; Barrie, as Christopher's mother, was nominated for Best Supporting Actress; composer Williams and director Yates also received nominations from the Academy. The four young leads all deliver excellent performances, as does Dooley (unjustly overlooked by the Academy) as Dave's father. Cyclists of the world, unite. You have nothing to lose but your chains! leave a comment

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