Bike Movies by Greg Borzo
- Title: Breaking Away
- Year Released: 1979
- Duration: 101 minutes
- Language: English
- Bike Content: 10/10 wheels
- Overall Rating: 8/10 stars
It’s Not About the Bikes! Breaking Away is about growing up and going to college; losing your innocence and finding your way.
True, from chases to races, Breaking Away is cinema paradiso for bicyclists. But this film has so much going for it that you don’t have to like bikes to enjoy it.
First, it’s laugh-out-loud funny, from a tirade against “ini” food to the seductive role of a pocket protector.
In addition, the characters are well developed and change during the course of the film. You feel the confusion of the four unemployed buddies who hang out together, especially for Dave Stoller, who spends much of the movie pretending to be Italian. Later, you share their exhilaration.
The greatest strength of this film is the writing. The story is engaging and the dialogue authentic. Screenwriter Steve Tesich must have followed the old adage “write what you know.” At 14, his family moved to Indiana, and he later graduated from Indiana University. No wonder he could portray the town/gown split so well and vividly depict IU’s Little 500, the annual bike race that provides the climax to the film. (Held since 1951, the Little 500 is the largest collegiate bike race in the United States.) Tesich poured himself into this script, for which he won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay in 1980.
On top of all this, the film features biking and more biking. What a treat to watch Stoller fervently true a wheel, sing opera as he bikes around town, and draft behind an 18-wheeler at 50 miles per hour. How cool to see a bike attached to the top of a teenager’s hotrod. And it’s been a long time since a movie employed a bike as a prop to help a boy woo a girl. A love of all things bicycle permeates Breaking Away. This is as good as it gets.