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
Breaking Away is a picture that is better than the sum of its parts. Oh, its parts are wonderful. The writing is sharp, observant, and funny (It won an Oscar!), the acting is superb (how Paul Dooley was nixed a nomination never mind the award I'll never know), and it is a well shot film. But its charms go even deeper. It is the story of four young men in their late teens, who are staring adulthood in the face after a year of leisure in the "small town" of Bloomington, Indiana, and how they deal with watching successful college kids pass them by. It is also about a young man in search of an identity (including that of a Italian bicycle racer), and of a family that is loving and supportive, almost in spite of itself. All these add up to a richly enjoyable, deeply moving family picture that gives us many moments to treasure (a large number include Paul Dooley as the frustrated and confused, but eventually loving father). Like other sports movies (the lead character races bicycles), it has a contest at the end, and like many much poorer ones, it ends with triumph. But we cheer not only for these immensely likeable "cutters," but for ourselves, for being treated to this bittersweet, touching, and wonderful movie.
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