Sunday 5 May 2024

Movie Review: Breathless (1983)

Genre: Crime Drama Romance  
Director: Jim McBride  
Starring: Richard Gere, Valerie Kaprisky  
Running Time: 97 minutes  

Synopsis: Professional car thief Jesse Lujack (Richard Gere) loves Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis Presley, and the Silver Surfer comic book character. While driving from Las Vegas to Los Angeles in a stolen car, he inadvertently shoots a police officer. In LA he seeks out foreign student Monica (Valerie Kaprisky), who had walked out on him after a Vegas fling. With law officers closing in, Jesse trawls LA's underworld to collect some money and tries to charm Monica into fleeing to Mexico with him.

What Works Well: In this remake of Jean-Luc Godard's celebrated 1960 debut, the colours are vivid, the eroticism levels high, and both stars look good in various stages of undress. Even when clothed, Richard Gere exudes chest-always-exposed sexuality, bouncing off the walls in an all-or-nothing performance so memorably over the top that the restless thief actually starts to make sense.
What Does Not Work As Well: The plot is too thin to matter, the characters' actions and emotional notes quickly become repetitive, and Valerie Kaprisky's monotonous line readings are aggravating. Director and co-writer Jim McBride's attempted injections of philosophical conversations (usually while the characters are naked, of course) start and end with Jesse's live-for-today attitude conflicting with Monica's desire to actually plan for the future. Beyond the instinctive attraction of bad boys, why she spends more than a minute with him is unclear.

Conclusion: Style, vibe, and attitude layered upon an inconsequential couple.

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