The Loveless

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The Loveless
The Loveless DVD cover.jpg
DVD cover
Directed byKathryn Bigelow
Monty Montgomery
Produced byA. Kitman Ho
Grafton Nunes
Written byKathryn Bigelow
Monty Montgomery
StarringWillem Dafoe
Robert Gordon
Music byRobert Gordon
CinematographyDoyle Smith
Edited byNancy Kanter
Distributed byAtlantic Releasing
Release date
  • March 1982 (1982-03) (Filmex)
  • January 20, 1984 (1984-01-20) (New York)
Running time
85 minutes
CountryUnited States

The Loveless (originally titled Breakdown) is a 1981 American outlaw biker drama film written and directed by Kathryn Bigelow and Monty Montgomery, in Bigelow's feature-length directorial debut.[1] It is an independent film and stars Willem Dafoe and musician Robert Gordon, who also did the music for the film.[1] The film has been compared to The Wild One.[1]


A motorcycle gang becomes involved in trouble in a small southern town.

The group of bikers congregates in and around a roadside diner and gas station en route to Daytona. The owners of the diner and gas station are nervous and one of the customers, Tarver, seems to be violently resentful towards them. The bikers hang around the garage, tinkering with their bikes, playing chicken with switch-blades, drinking, dancing and so on. A young girl, named Telena (who is Tarver's daughter), arrives in a red open-topped sports car. Vance (the Dafoe character) talks to her and they go for a drive, buying beers and whiskey for the rest of the gang. Vance and Telena, go to a motel room where they have sex. As they are about to leave, they are disturbed by gun shots outside. It is Telena's father, Tarver, who has spotted her car and in a typical fit of anger decides to shoot out the car tyres in order to punish her. He breaks into the room and takes Telena with him. The bikers pursue Tarver and run him off the road, causing him to crash his car. Telena is injured in the accident.

Later in the evening, the gang is in a local bar. One of the waitresses from the diner performs a striptease dance and the male customers of the bar become a little feverish. Tarver, who is also in the bar encourages one of the other locals to join him in attacking the bikers. One of the gang goes to the bathroom and Tarver attacks him. The struggle spills out into the bar where the violence escalates and gun shots ring out. Tarver is shot and as the confusion in the bar reigns, the assumption is that the bikers have shot him in revenge but it is Telena who has shot her father in response to his lifelong abuse of her and her mother. Further gun-shots are fired.

Outside, Vance stands smoking and sees Telena, now sat back in her car who then proceeds to use the same pistol to shoot herself.



Production on The Loveless began on September 22, 1980 and the entire shoot took just 22 days. The resources of MoMa's Film Study Center were utilised by Bigelow to create the aesthetic of the film. The title of the film changed twice, originally titled U.S 17, then Breakdown, then The Loveless.[2]


The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reported that 80% of critics have given the film a positive review based on 10 reviews, with an average rating of 6.38/10.[3] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 44 out of 100 based on 5 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[4]


According to Billy Idol's autobiography, "The Loveless" on Charmed Life (Billy Idol album) references the film.


  1. ^ a b c Maslin, Janet (January 20, 1984). "Movie Review - 50'S-STYLE 'LOVELESS'". The New York Times.
  2. ^ "Bringing The Loveless to MoMA (2011)". Retrieved June 7, 2011.
  3. ^ "Vida Sin Rumbo (1983)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved November 7, 2019.
  4. ^ "The Loveless Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved November 7, 2019.

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