Drake Doremus, 96 mins, 15
Film review: Breathe In - If you want to make beautiful music together, timing is everything
Saturday 20 July 2013
Guy Pearce was last seen in Iron Man 3, and Felicity Jones is set to co-star in the next Spider-Man film, so Breathe In is a welcome opportunity to remind ourselves of how sensitive they both are when playing ordinary, un-superpowered beings. It's written and directed by Drake Doremus, who collaborated with Jones on last year's Like Crazy, a heart-bruising, semi-improvised comic-drama which took a standard romcom plot – two twentysomething lovers stuck on different continents – and imagined how it might unfold in reality. In Breathe In, he pulls off the same trick with another well-worn predicament, the attraction between a married man and a girl young enough to be his daughter. It's a predicament that can be especially problematic if you're not Michael Douglas or Woody Allen.
Jones, playing a decade younger than her actual age, is an 18-year-old British exchange student who comes to stay with a family in a leafy New York suburb. Her host, Pearce, is a high-school music teacher who still dreams of making it as a rock bassist or a concert cellist. When he watches Jones conquer a finger-knottingly difficult piano solo, it's worth the ticket price just to see the dozen different emotions which radiate from his almost static face.
Surprisingly, lust isn't one of them. An unironic, melancholic romance, Breathe In is generous enough to treat its protagonists as vulnerable individuals who believe they may be soulmates, rather than as a Lolita and a Humbert Humbert. It's just a shame about the melodramatic ending, which is preceded by so much ominous music and general moodiness that we all but see the storm clouds rolling in. The rich, sympathetic characters we've got to know deserve a less simplistic final act.
Having been Oscar-nominated for Leaving Las Vegas, Mike Figgis turned his back on mainstream cinema to concentrate on experimental, low-budget video film- making (Time Code, Hotel). But if Suspension of Disbelief (11 mins, 15 *) is what he gets up to when left to his own devices, someone should give him $100m and force him to make the next Transformers sequel.
As in Leaving Las Vegas, the main character is a screenwriter (Sebastian Koch from The Lives of Others). But in this instance that's an excuse for endless, tedious Postmodernism. Half of the scenes turn out to be films-within-films or even films- within-films-within-films, and the other half feature Koch either hosting a creative-writing seminar or typing a script which describes the action we're watching. Unfortunately, Figgis seems so fixated on being meta that he hasn't noticed the flat acting or the patience-trying pacing of his film-noir plot. Suspending your disbelief is out of the question.
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 What happens to your body when you give up sugar?
- 2 Drugs Live cannabis trial: Hash is less harmful than any other drug, expert claims
- 3 Have sex with your iPad thanks to the new sex toy no-one asked for
- 4 African jawbone discovery pushes birth of humanity back by 400,000 years
- 5 The 'sex selfie stick' lets you FaceTime the inside of a vagina
The Great Comic Relief Bake Off, TV review: Alexa Chung impresses, but Chris Moyles makes Paul Hollywood gag
Fifty Shades of Grey movie shows first sex scene 'after 40 minutes'
Seth Rogan's pot fumes delay hacked Sony boss’s office move
India's Daughter: BBC Four documentary provokes outrage on Twitter
India's Daughter, TV review: Delhi bus rape documentary is about women's rights around the world - not just in India
Nearly 100,000 of Britain's poorest children go hungry after parents' benefits are cut
Durham Free School: 'Creationism taught at' free school facing closure
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
End of the licence fee: BBC to back radical overhaul of how it is funded
Ukraine crisis: Top Chinese diplomat backs Putin and says West should 'abandon zero-sum mentality'
Boris Nemtsov shot dead: Outspoken Putin critic who had expressed fears for his life is killed near the Kremlin