Richard Gere has had a pretty solid career over the years with his biggest peak probably being in the 80s with another upswing around the time of Pretty Woman. He has made many iconic films that are rightfully regarded as classics like An Officer and a Gentleman, Days of Heaven, and American Gigolo and he has also made a few of my favorites like Primal Fear, Internal Affairs (if you haven’t seen this thriller with Andy Garcia seek it out immediately), The Flock and Brooklyn’s Finest. Oddly though I had never seen his 1983 film Breathless. I remember it being talked about in ‘83 but in all my years I never got around to seeing it. So I took this opportunity of Shout Factory releasing it on Blu-ray to remedy that.
Jesse Lujack (Gere) is a small time con and thief who lives day to day and gets everything he needs through his charm and through crime. But when he has to get out of Las Vegas in a hurry, he decides to steal a car and drive to Los Angeles to reignite a flame from his past. On the way an altercation with a police officer ends badly and rockets Jesse up the most wanted list. So with his reckless personality in check he drags innocent Monica (Valérie Kaprisky) into his web of deceit and crime, hoping to get away to Mexico before the law catches up with him.
Breathless is a remake of the 1960 film of the same name by Jean-Luc Godard and I am now definitely interested in seeing that film as well. Gere is at the top of his game here delivering a character that is charming, funny, dangerous and oddly off balanced. What may have just looked like a kooky character in 1983 now resembles more of a mentally unstable man in dire need of help. Jesse seems like a man who has never been helped or diagnosed and is dangerously unbalanced. He has trouble sticking to one thing, he is hyperactive, he has no empathy or regard for others, and he is obsessive. Gere really does play him as fascinatingly complex. And the relationship between Jesse and Monica is even more intriguing. She is a promising student with a good career ahead of her and throws it all into the wind for a guy she knows is not right. But his manic reasoning and wishful thinking wins her over and makes her join in his delusions of a carefree future. Breathless is a great romance albeit an odd one, a great thriller and a highlight of Gere’s lengthy career. Well worth checking out and the Blu-ray restoration is impressive for a 32 year old film.