VOD film review: Breathe In
James R | On 10, Oct 2013
Director: Drake Doremus
Cast: Felicity Jones, Guy Pearce
Watch Breathe In online in the UK: Curzon Home Cinema / Apple TV (iTunes) / TalkTalk TV / Google Play
“I don’t want to be living a life where I’m not choosing . . . stuff.”
That’s Felicity Jones as Sophie, a piano-plinking Brit staying with Guy Pearce’s music teacher. He plays the cello. Reunited with Like Crazy’s director, Drake Doremus, Breathe In is another low-key romance that sees Jones at her best; she stumbles and stammers her way through improvised scenes, in a way that makes you believe Keith might leave his wife for this genuine young woman who worries about life, choices and stuff.
The old male mid-life crisis is, of course, nothing new. In cinemas, middle-aged men apparently fall in love with their house guests all the time. The difference here? Firstly, he has a very impressive beard. Secondly, it feels real.
“Breathe in,” Sophie advises Keith, as he tries to calm his nerves ahead of a cello audition. Several seconds pass. “Now breathe out.” The more he relaxes, the further detached he becomes from his family, including his overlooked wife (Amy Ryan) and lonely daughter Lauren. The ripples their bond sends through the house at first are only minor tremors – a stunted conversation at a hospital, an awkward showdown at school – but they slowly escalate. Mackenzie Davis gets the most to do as the jealous Lauren, desperately chasing boys as her lips tremble, while Keith’s classical music performances (carefully cut to let Pearce mime effectively) seem to become darker and more complex; Doremus has created that rare, heightened world where sound sound does half the talking.
The other half is done by its two leads. Breathe In is at its best when just Pearce and Jones are on the screen. John Guleserian’s camera lurks close by as Doremus crafts perfect little scenes between them. One sequence in a car sees Keith receive a text message, a moment that involves no dialogue but the change in mood is written all over their faces. When they do talk, the dialogue can be riper than a banana in British summer, but Doremus’ cast combined with Jonathan Alberts’ sensitive editing makes their awkwardness seem immediate and unrehearsed.
If Jones and Doremus’ last outing was First World Problems: The Movie, this is its sequel – 2 White 2 Privileged – but Breathe In boasts a freewheeling intimacy that’s hard to resist. It’s a 90-minute drama that isn’t afraid to be earnest – and, in an age of loud blockbusters, revels in its singular focus on romance. And life. And choices. And stuff. Here’s hoping Doremus and Jones join forces again to make another.