Jersey City Stands in for NYC in New Independent Film ‘Breaking Point’

Shooting under the Pulaski Skyway/Photo courtesy of Evolving Productions

Actor and producer Robert Capelli Jr. is best known for his comedic work with the likes of Artie Lange in Waltzing Anna, and Danny Aiello in 2003’s Mail Order Bride. But the lifelong Hoboken resident’s newest film is a hardened look at corruption on New York City streets (even though it was shot in Jersey City).

Starring Busta Rhymes, Tom Berenger, and the late Jersey City boxing legend Arturo Gatti, most of Breaking Point was shot right here in Chilltown — and it might just mirror the city’s recent political distortion.

“It’s a really cold and dark movie,” says Capelli, who produced and stars in the movie, “a real New York gritty type of cinema.” Following five different story lines, Breaking Point is reminiscent of Martin Scorcese’s The Departed, but “much darker and more violent,” the actor says.

Costing a cool $3.5 million to shoot, the movie, previously known as Order of Redemption, looks a lot more expensive than the price tag.

“The look of it is just amazing,” Capelli says. “It looks like a $10-million movie. It’s funny because a lot of people don’t know what to expect from an independent movie, but they were pleasantly surprised.”

Before being released last week on DVD by Lions Gate, the movie had a limited run in theaters across the U.S., from L.A. to Chicago to Florida, bringing a little piece of Jersey City to the rest of the country.

“There’s a great scene that was shot right on Route 440,” Capelli says. “It almost works as a character.”

A Rapper, a Boxer and an Actor Walk into a Bar

The independent movie attracted some pretty substantial names, with stars like Tom Berenger and Busta Rhymes and legendary Jersey City boxer Arturo Gatti playing big roles. While that’s nothing new to Capelli, an up-and-coming actor who has worked with Hollywood starlets like Emmanuelle Chriqui and Croatian bombshell Ivana Milicevic, he still admits to being a bit awed by the star power.

“We were waiting for a scene change, and it was me, Arturo, Busta, and Tom Berenger in the car,” Capelli says, reminiscing about of one of his favorite moments on set. “Everybody took five, but we just sat in the car talking. To have all these incredible individuals who are on top of their games just shooting the shit was a great moment for me.”

He adds: “The actors were really amazing. Busta Rhymes was a complete gentleman on set, and the perfect fit for the part.”

Busta’s onscreen performance of that role — a dangerous hit man — leaves movie-goers with a single certain emotion.

“You wind up really hating Busta at the end,” Capelli says. “But, when you see a character in a movie and you hate him because he’s just such a dick, than that guy is a really great actor.”

Working with Gatti, a longtime friend who was found dead in a hotel room in Brazil in July, was particularly memorable for Capelli.

“I knew Arturo for almost 10 years,” he says. “He was so excited to be on set. I mean, he’s been through so much as a boxer, you wouldn’t think that he would be so excited. But he loved it.”

Waltzing with Artie

Breaking Point is not Capelli’s first time shooting in Jersey City. Capelli starred in the 2006 romantic comedy Waltzing Anna, starring Chriqui and Artie Lange, which was shot at the old Jersey City Medical Center.

“That was one of the better experiences of my life,” Capelli says. “Working with Emanuelle and Artie was a dream. It was a lot of fun coming to set every day.”

But the movie is more than just laughs. Capelli, who also co-wrote the film, dedicated the movie to his late grandfather.

“The movie really taught me a lot about the elderly,” he says. “Elderly people are older, but that doesn’t mean they’re out of the game, which is one thing we have to remember.”

With his production company Baxter Films having at least two new projects in the works, Capelli says he’ll keep shooting locally.

“I love shooting in Hudson County,” he says. “It’s just so nice when you can go home to your mother’s house for Sunday macaroni.”

For more on Breaking Point, visit the movie’s website.

the former editor of the Hudson Current arts and entertainment weekly.