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Breaking Away

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19-year-old Enrico is training to become the fastest cyclist in Italy. Only one problem. He’s not in Italy, he’s in Bloomington, Indiana. And he’s not Enrico, he’s Dave Stoller (Dennis Christopher). Dave and his friends (Dennis Quaid, Jackie Earle Haley, Daniel Stern) are “cutters”, working class townies whose families likely used to work at the quarry, as opposed to the students attending the local college from out of town. High school grads, the cutters aren’t sure what to make of their lives – that is, aside from Dave, who’s obsessed with cycling. And smitten by one of the college girls (Robyn Douglass), so much so that he tells her he’s an Italian exchange student to make himself seem more interesting.

Written by Steve Tesich (he won the Academy Award for it), Breaking Away deals with a similar period of life to American Graffiti, but in a very different historical context, and it finds a lot of comic mileage in bringing in the parents – especially Paul Dooley and Barbara Barrie, who are very funny as Dave’s perplexed mom and dad. Dave gets a chance to race, but can he actually break away…? Director Peter Yates, probably best known for the famous car chase in Bullit, proves equally adept at making two wheels as exciting as four.

A wonderfully sunny, funny, goofy, intelligent movie that makes you feel about as good as any movie in a long time. It is, in fact, a treasure … Movies like this are hardly ever made at all; when they’re made this well, they’re precious cinematic miracles.

Roger Ebert

Thrilling… a sweet, smart, enormously warm comedy… very thoughtful about social class…But the way the movie handles cycling, which isn’t one of cinema’s more heavily covered sports, introduces another entire dimension and transforms Breaking Away from a nice character piece to a literally breathtaking story.

Linda Holmes, NPR

Aug 30: Introduction from UBC film professor Ernest Mathjis


Peter Yates


Dennis Christopher, Dennis Quaid, Jackie Earle Haley, Daniel Stern, Paul Dooley, Barbara Barrie

Country of Origin







Best Screenplay, Academy Awards 1980

101 min

Book Tickets

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Peter Yates


Steve Tesich


Matthew F. Leonetti


Cynthia Scheider

Original Music

Patrick Williams

Art Director

Patrizia von Brandenstein

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