Thursday, May 1, 2014

Movie Review: Breathe In

*Portions of this review were first published in January of 2013 as part of a series of capsule reviews for the Sundance Film Festival

Guy Pearce and Felicity Jones star in 'Breathe In'

Breathe In

A funny thing happened during a Q&A with director Drake Doremus (Like Crazy) after his new film “Breathe In.” was screened at Sundance. First, an audience member bluntly asked the filmmaker about the decisions behind what he felt was a predictable script and second, the audience turned on the questioner with a level of boos and hisses that typically accompanies road show melodramas.

It’s not that the man’s question was without merit: 'Breathe In' tells the story of a discontented high school music teacher/semi-professional cello player who confronts the lingering dissonance he feels for a quiet, suburban life when a beautiful and mysterious foreign exchange student arrives in his home. From start to finish, the film follows what could be described as a pre-set path, as attraction leads to temptation, action and conflict.

But what lifts 'Breathe In' from the mold is the directorial style of Doremus, who employs a sort of hand-held eavesdropping technique that makes every movement and word hum with artistic significance. Reuniting with his 'Like Crazy' star, Doremus again crafts a delicate and heartbreaking relationship that relies on intellectual and emotional romance rather than a lust and physical attraction.

Life, after all, can be rather predictable, but in Doremus’ hands 'Breathe In' manages to entertain and entice while still maintaining realism and relatability. It does not quite reach the emotional heights of Like Crazy (which won the grand jury award at the 2011 festival), but Doremus nonetheless presents an immersive, tragic tale filled with tenderness and sincerity.

Grade: B+
'Breathe In' opens in Utah on Friday, May 2

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