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The One-Line Summary: In the college town of Bloomington, Indiana, four local boys (Dennis Christopher, Dennis Quaid, Daniel Stern, Jackie Earle Haley) with no plans for their futures are destined to be Cutters, a sometimes derogatory nickname for the men working the limestone mines and a person with no future, but find inspiration in their support of Dave (Dennis Christopher) and his dreams of being a road cycling champion.
The Two-Line Blurb: Directed by Peter Yates, Breaking Away doesn’t stray too far from the formula but does pack the screen with amazing charm and some very honest performances by the entire cast, including the four boys but also Dave’s wonderfully supportive parents (Barbara Barrie, Paul Dooley) who put up with their son as he becomes obsessed with Italian cycle racing to the point of speaking entirely with an Italian accent wherever he goes. A decidedly low-budget feel with a surprisingly effective authenticity, the movie is endlessly satisfying and while its ending is telegraphed from the very start, the journey there is a joyous ride.
The Three-Line Set-up: This moment is about crashing dreams and disappointed expectations when Dave gets a chance to race in a long distance cycling event that features the famous Italian team. From the beginning, Dave is constantly seen in his bike gear and seemingly spends all his time training on his well-tuned bike, riding it everywhere he goes, even on the highway where, drafting behind a semi, reaches some amazing speeds. He’s told everyone about his racing idols, and it is his lifelong dream to not only meet them, but be able to compete alongside them.
The Four-Line Moment: As the race gets underway, the powerful four-man Italian team takes a strong lead, putting an impressive distance between themselves and the rest of the pack, except for Dave. As the professional team form a draft line and push onward, Dave sidles up and, ecstatic to be meeting them, greets them in their native language, to which they initially appear pleased with, allowing him to take the lead. That all changes though as it becomes clear that this pesky American amateur is keeping pace, so they take action and sabotage his efforts by first messing with his gearing before finally jamming an air pump into his front fork, sending him careening over the curb and out of the race. It’s a hard lesson, but one he doesn’t forget and it represents a central shift in the development of Dave’s future.
The Five-Word Review: Great time at the movies.