Entertainment Movies

Friday 17 November 2017

All hazy longing, indie style

Sultry: Felicity Jones is a troubled young music exchange student
Sultry: Felicity Jones is a troubled young music exchange student

Paul Whitington

breathe In

(15A, limited release, 98 minutes)

Director: Drake Doremus Stars: Guy Pearce, Felicity Jones, Kyle McLachlan, Amy Ryan

3 STARS

From the opening frame of Breathe In it's obvious what kind of film writer/ director Drake Doremus intends it to be. A camera hovers poignantly in an empty sitting room, while through the window on the lawn a nuclear family poses for a slightly awkward commemorative photo.

They are the Reynolds, a tentatively contented unit whose status quo is about to be seriously challenged, and this is American indie arthouse, with a capital 'A'.

Keith (Guy Pearce), Megan (Amy Ryan) and their teenage daughter Lauren (Mackenzie Davis) live in a rambling house in upstate New York. They rub along quite nicely too, but Keith once had aspirations as a serious musician, and resents the teaching post he had to take in order to help raise their child.

He still dreams of returning to New York City and becoming a full-time musician, but Megan grandly dismisses such notions and thinks they're just fine where they are.

And so they are – until Sophie (Felicity Jones) shows up.

A music exchange student from England, she arrives to stay with the Reynolds and study at Lauren's school. And while Sophie may have the eyes of a bunny rabbit, she turns out to be a human wrecking ball.

First of all she inadvertently upsets Lauren by attracting the attention of a former flame. Things get even worse when Sophie shows up in Keith's music class and turns out to be a virtuoso pianist. And as he watches her banging out a Chopin prelude, Keith is smitten.

Breathe In is shot in low light through a hazy lens and oozes wistful melancholia.

Pearce has never been bad in anything, and uses his eloquent range of fleeting expressions to express his character's secret longings. Ryan is excellent as his exasperated partner, and Jones is very effective as the unfortunate Sophie.

But Doremus's film tries a little too hard, and feels at times like a short story stretched way too thin.

Raymond Carver is even name-checked at one point, but would never have been responsible for anything as flowery and contrived as this.

Irish Independent

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