Break Up (1998): Do you remember this thriller/suspense flick?


Break Up is a film about spousal abuse, control, murder and what lengths one will go to conceal one’s identity. It seems to be overlooked.

There’s a chance you’ve never heard of Break Up. It’s a movie that seems largely forgotten. In fact, when I Googled it a bit ago, I had to use the search terms “break up movie kiefer sutherland” just to find it. Although it’s largely overlooked, it’s not gone.

Also, it’s actually a halfway decent movie. Directed by Paul Marcus and starring Bridget Fonda, Kiefer Sutherland, Hart Bochner, and Steven Weber, Break Up can hold my attention when I watch it.  I can’t say that about everything.

Basically, Fonda plays a deaf woman named Jimmy Dade, who’s been in an abusive marriage with a scoundrel named Frankie (played by Bochner). Not long into Break Up she gets hospitalized. Then, not long after that, Frankie ends up in a fiery car crash, and she is a possible suspect in his death.

Kiefer Sutherland comes in as Officer John Box, trying to extract more information from her. Steven Weber plays the rude Officer Andrew Ramsey. Leslie Stefanson plays Frank’s side girl, Shelly, who foolishly thinks Frank loves her.

Also, as a bit of a surprise, Tippi Hedren (known for Hitchcock’s The Birds) plays Jimmy Dade’s mom. Although her role is low key, little touches like that can make a bigger film.

Break Up has some definite Fugitive-esque moments, though it’s not blatantly action-oriented. One memorable scenes involves a character going through great physical lengths to avoid police detection.

It adds a slight, believable horror element to what is otherwise an action-thriller drama. After watching Forensic Files over the years, I can’t say Break Up‘s too fantastical to be true.  In fact, I’ve heard weirder true crime tales than this fictional one.

Potential Weak Points to Break Up

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Honestly, this is just a pretty good movie. One of its weaknesses (in my opinion) is that the characters aren’t fully explored. This is especially true of Kiefer Sutherland’s role.

Despite a decent performance, he wasn’t given much to do, so there wasn’t anything special about it. Do things like this damage the movie a lot? No, not really.

It just prevents them from being amazing.  Most characters are under-utilized here, and not enough of the film’s essence was brought out.

For example, Frank and Jimmy’s characters could have used a bit more backstory without adding a huge amount to the run time. On top of that, there aren’t that many successful mystery elements to the movie, though it touts itself as mysterious.

That being said, these are light critiques, not intending to smear Break Out as something that “sucks.” This is a movie I would recommend, but not too highly. Who knows?

Maybe it’ll knock your socks off and blow your mind. I just watch it every once in a while, which is good enough, right?

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What are your thoughts on Break Up? Think the movie holds up? Break it down for us in the comments!