30 user 11 critic

Breaking Up (1997)

A couple circa 30 breaks up after 2 1/2 years - or do they?


Robert Greenwald


Michael Cristofer (play), Michael Cristofer (screenplay)




Complete credited cast:
Russell Crowe ... Steve
Salma Hayek ... Monica
Abraham Alvarez Abraham Alvarez ... Minister


Monica teaches, Steve's a photographer. They've dated more than two years. They're arguing, and she leaves for her apartment, only to return in a few minutes to say they should stop seeing each other. A few days later, they're back together, but within two hours, he takes offense at an off-hand remark, and the separation starts in earnest. They see other people, then, out of the blue, Steve asks Monica to marry him. She says yes, and a time of ecstasy begins: they interview strangers, asking them what makes a marriage work, and she moves in with him. Then comes the wedding, and when Steve freezes, anger ends the relationship again. Can harmony return? Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


When the sex is great. When the passion is intense. When the love is strong. It's time for... breaking up.


Comedy | Drama | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language and sexuality | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


Kelly Preston auditioned for the role of Monica. See more »


Monica: Something happened to the world and nobody understood it. It was confusing and people started jumping to conclusions. There are no more absolutes. Time space good evil the things we know the things we believe in the things we see we thought we understood these things but maybe we don't maybe they're all relative.
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Referenced in Film Geek (2005) See more »


Written by Ed Ackerman
Performed by Polara
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User Reviews

Inventive, quirky film with high aspirations for itself
30 January 2001 | by Sydni_64See all my reviews

I have always thought that we should fall in love with people for their dreams, and for their efforts to fulfill those dreams--not for their accomplishments. Love a man because he's a brilliant actor and aspires to greatness--not because he can take you to the Oscars when he's nominated for Best Actor.

That philosophy informs my opinion of this movie. It sets out many lofty goals for itself. It wants to demonstrate and lay out for examination the entire plight of heterosexual love/lust. It wants two actors to carry an entire movie virtually by themselves, playing against each other, giving the film a stifled, claustrophobic feeling--where the viewer feels just like Steve and Monica. You love the movie, but you feel breathless and spent, like you've given too much. It wants to tell a story using live on-the-street interviews, black-and-white still photography, slow-mo vignettes, traditional Hollywood-styled cinematography, and a split-screen interview of Steve and Monica post-relationship. It wants to use music and sound to resonate with the storyline. My favorite ten minutes of the film center around the "carrot scene," where Steve criticizes Monica for putting carrots in the pasta. The action stops and moves to b&w stills, with the sounds of their argument carrying over. This technique highlights the alienation that Steve and Monica feel from themselves and their own relationship. Even in the most heated, passionate argument, it's as if they're just going through the motions.

Like I said, this film wants to do a lot of things, and it doesn't succeed at all of them. For instance, it doesn't really pull off its attempt at using Freud, Einstein, and Marx to lend some credence to its own conclusions (or inconclusions) about love. Some people say they never do become very attached to Steve and Monica--indeed, as people, the characters kind of suck. I would not want either one of them for a friend. That does not mean that they do not deserve to be loved, however--they very much deserve each other, that much is clear. So, I bawl like a baby every time I watch this. (I've seen it about 6 or so times). And I love this movie for the greatness it strives toward. I would rather watch a film that fails at its grand project than a little movie that has low expectations and meets them. Big whoop, right? More than this, Breaking Up features two brilliant performances by Russell Crowe and Salma Hayek, who are both quite easy on the eye, and look great together. Salma's fiery spirit is quite a cinematic match for Russell's own undercurrent of simmering violence (even if Steve is a bit whimpy for my tastes). I love this film. Technically, there is so much going on--the director had so many great ideas, so many dreams, and you see them right there, in the movie. I can't think of another Hollywood movie with such a major confluence of established styles and innovative techniques. Brilliant.

Buy this film. It is absolutely worth it, and fans of Russell and/or Salma should know that there are some beautifully-shot, utterly sensuous and compelling love scenes in this film. Those two have *chemistry*.

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Release Date:

17 October 1997 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Amor em Chamas See more »

Filming Locations:

Los Angeles, California, USA


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$4,493, 19 October 1997

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

DTS | Dolby Digital



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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