EMILY puts two English characters within the framework of a stereotypically French film, deconstructing a common sexual fantasy to explore the moment two strangers meet and attempt to fill their loneliness with each others' need.
Cold and melancholic, but it has a heart buried deep down that wins you over.
It appears Drake Doremus is fascinated by English-American relationships to the point of obsession. I didn't see his previous film Like Crazy as it was a little too close to home for me and I didn't wanna risk the potential dreary things it had to say. But then, maybe Doremus is just fascinated by Felicity Jones. Although I loved her in Cemetery Junction, I haven't seen any of her films since. She has a strange screen presence where she can go from charming to icy, perhaps at will. And maybe that suits this quiet and subtle film. Much like the perspective of its protagonist, a stifled artist played by Guy Pearce, Breathe In plays its first hour deliberately close to the chest with cold mundane sequences detailing the characters plain routine of life. It captures it in voyeuristic cinematography, saturating their world in dull blues and greys.
With improvised dialogue from the actors in an attempt to feel its way through the drama of the film, acting can sometimes feel natural but more often than not, it can feel awkward. It's a double-edged sword in its style of choice, one that's a risk in if it'll pay off. It's a slow build, and unfortunately one that feels like it's not setting up enough. But this is a difficult topic. Older man and younger woman relationships can often feel uncomfortable, especially when it's a challenge to get the audience to sympathise with such privileged characters in the first place. If there was one thing that could save Breathe In from averageness, it was making the core relationship sincere. And a pleasant surprise, it won me over. It taps into the human condition and reveals the emotional needs that bind us all. That connection bolsters the film significantly and makes its relatively urgent third act all the more compelling. While it can feel unnecessarily melancholic, Breathe In is a film of rewarding delicate touches if in small doses.
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