Best friends Dave, Mike, Cyril and Moocher have just graduated from high school. Living in the college town of Bloomington, Indiana, they are considered "cutters": the working class of the town so named since most of the middle aged generation, such as their parents, worked at the local limestone quarry, which is now a swimming hole. There is great animosity between the cutters and the generally wealthy Indiana University students, each group who have their own turf in town. The dichotomy is that the limestone was used to build the university, which is now seen as being too good for the locals who built it. Although each of the four is a totally different personality from the other three, they also have in common the fact of being unfocused and unmotivated in life. The one slight exception is Dave. Although he has no job and doesn't know what to do with his life, he is a champion bicycle racer. He idolizes the Italian cycling team so much he pretends to be Italian, much to the chagrin...Written by
Do you remember that time in your life when you were no longer a teenager but not yet an adult? That time in your life when, for the very first time, you had to begin to make decisions that could affect the outcome of your life. There is no movie that captures this time, the transition from teenager to adulthood, quite as well as Peter Yates' superb film Breaking Away.
The story takes place in Bloomington, Indiana, (home to Indiana University) one of the bigger college towns in America. It concerns the rivalry between the rich, snobbish college kids and the local townies (called cutters because there fathers cut limestone in the local quarries to build the college, among other things.) The cutters are played superbly by Dennis Christopher, Dennis Quaid, Daniel Stern and Jackie Earle Haley. There is not a false note in any of their performances with Quaid and Christopher special stand-outs. It is interesting to note that of the four, only Quaid and Stern went on to bigger and better things.
What really carries this movie though, are the universal themes that everyone can relate to. We can all relate to at least one of the stars, everyone has gone through what they are going through. Most people realize it as one of the more difficult times in their life (as it is for the characters portrayed in the movie.) What carries them through is their friendship with one another, and the support that that gives them. The movie also touches upon family and how hard it is sometimes to communicate with parents, who always (hopefully) love but sometimes just don't understand. Special mention must be made of Paul Dooley (who plays the father of Dennis Christopher), how he did not receive an oscar nomination much less win the coveted statue, for his performance, remains a mystery to this day. Barbara Barrie is also excellent as the mother.
The story follows the cutters as they try to prove to the college kids that they are real human beings, not outcasts to be looked down upon. As one of the cutters is a champion bike rider, the climax of the film and the contest to prove their worthiness, comes down to the Little 500 Bike Race. This is an annual bike race that is still held at IU and is one of the seminal sporting events of the college year (the screenwriter Steve Tesich, who won an oscar for his screenplay, actually won the Little 500). It is the perfect ending for this remarkable and uplifting film.
Praise must be given to everyone involved with the production, there is not a false note throughout the movie. Peter Yates did a superb job of taking relatively unknown actors coupled with tough subject matter and turning it into a minor classic.
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