A modest 1979 film about four teenagers (Dennis Christopher, Dennis Quaid, Daniel Stern, and Jackie Earle Hailey) whose transition to responsible adulthood is impaired by the peculiar circumstances of their adolescence—they've grown up as downtrodden townies in the university community of Bloomington, Indiana (here given Ivy League status). Released at a time when any small-scale film earned critical favor simply by virtue of its unpretentiousness, Breaking Away probably looked better in context than it does now. But Peter Yates, previously typed as an action director (Bullitt, The Deep), lends the film a fine, unexpected limpidity, and the principals are mostly excellent.
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