The Break
(a.k.a. A Further Gesture)

             There is a trend nowadays for actors to shape their careers by
     adding additional responsibilities to their careers. Many turn to directing
     while others produce or pen screenplays. Add Stephen Rea to the list.
     Around the time of Rea's Broadway debut in 1992, British producer
     Chris Curling approached Irish writer Ronan Bennett to collaborate on
     a screen project to star Rea. The actor rejected the original idea,
     suggesting another story that eventually became the feature
     (released in Europe under the title A FURTHER GESTURE). The film,
     which opens in limited release in February 1998, does not fit squarely
     into any one genre as it combines elements of a political thriller with
     a love story. It is a taut piece of filmmaking, nicely directed by Robert
     Dornhelm, but . . . there seems to be something missing.

             Entering into the realm squarely claimed by Jim Sheridan and
      Terry George, Dornhelm and company start their story in an Irish
     prisoner. Rea, whose face is perfectly suited for the melancholy IRA
     gunman he portrays, becomes involved in a daring prison escape that
     goes awry. Dornhelm paces this sequence beautifully, builds the tension
     slowly until the inevitable eruption of violence. But this sequence is
     merely a prologue to the real story. We next find Rea in New York City,
     laying low under an assumed name, avoiding his countrymen and working
     in a menial job alongside Central and South American immigrants. His
     character, Dowd, avoids conflict and anything that might call attention
     to himself, until he is pulled into a situation at the low-budget hotel
     where lives. He is brutally stabbed and eventually finds himself in the
     care of a genial Guatemalan co- worker (played by Alfred Molina) and
     his beautiful sister (Rosana Pastor). Dowd falls for the sister and is
     drawn into their plot to kill a dictator from their homeland.
             While it glosses over some of the politics and doesn't put the
     events into an historical context,
THE BREAK (a so-so title) has several
     things going for it, particularly the opening sequence and the effective
     performances from Rea and Pastor. It is the equivalent of a riding a
     rollercoaster, offering short-term thrills that are quickly forgotten.

                                           Rating:        C+
© 2008 by C. E. Murphy. All Rights Reserved.