Director: Drake Doremus
Starring: Guy Pearce, Felicity Jones, Kyle MacLachlan, Amy Ryan, Brendan Dooling, Alexandra Wentworth, Lucy Davenport
More info: IMDb
Plot: As summer turns to fall, music teacher Keith Reynolds privately reminisces about his days as a starving artist in the city. While his wife, Megan, and daughter, Lauren, look forward to Lauren’s final year of high school, Keith clings to those evenings he’s asked to sub as a cellist with a prestigious Manhattan symphony. When Megan decides the family should host foreign exchange student Sophie, the British high school senior soon rekindles an impetuous aspect of Keith’s personality.
My rating: 9/10
Will I watch it again? Yes.
Guy Pearce is a rock star in my book and the reason for my wanting to see this picture. It's a bonus that Amy Ryan (the scrummy girlfriend of Michael Scott (Steve Carell) in the U.S. version of THE OFFICE) also stars as well as Felicity Jones giving one hell of a performance. What a beautifully heartbreaking film. The audience at the Sundance premiere was clearly uncomfortable with the relationship between Keith (Pearce) and Sophie (Jones). He's middle-aged with a wife and daughter and she's 18. There was an abundance of uncomfortable laughter (much like TWO MOTHERS (2013)) which can be really annoying when you're investing yourself into a film.
Writers Ben York Jones and Drake Doremus (who also directed) have created a delicate story and film that will challenge you to consider the boundaries of love as it pertains to what is acceptable in modern society. I didn't have an issue with it. Keith (Pearce) left the life he wanted to lead a long time ago. His wife, Megan (Ryan), has chosen his current and miserable life - where and how they live, including his profession as a high school piano teach, a job he loathes. He has regrets and resentment. When he's given a chance to follow his dream, he wants to take it. Sophia (Jones) is that opportunity, or at least the excuse for one. She encourages him where is wife not only discourages it but ridicules him for even thinking about it.
Parts of what he's going through are things I can sympathize with. Keith and Sophia never do anything more than share non-physical moments and eventually kiss. The love they make isn't physical but emotional and musical. There's a rare moment when they are home alone. She offers to play something on the piano. They both sit on the bench. She plays a very lovely piece that ends with his hand gently and slowly touching hers. THAT'S the love scene. That scene was tearing me up inside. Through the music you could feel the emotions that are erupting inside her. It was a remarkably beautiful scene.
END OF SPOILERS...YARRRRR!!!
I've mentioned a lot lately (at least it seems like it) that I don't always like happy endings. A few of the films I've seen this year at Sundance wrap up all nice and tidy and everyone (or almost everyone) lives happily ever after or at least briefly ever after.
WHOOPS. NOT QUITE DONE WITH SPOILERS YET...
I was so distraught to see this one end as it began, with the family intact and Keith choosing to continue his disappointing and miserable life, having given up his chance at happiness. Now I realize that he and Sophia likely wouldn't have lasted, but it would've lasted long enough to begin to realize his dream to start a new life. BREATHE IN is an unconventional love story that will certainly generate some strong reactions.
I for one was once faced with making a similar decision many years ago. I made the right choice. I left a marriage that was holding me back, from my dreams of being an entertainer as well as just being happy. For the nearly twenty years since, I've been chasing those dreams and discovering new ones. I made a difficult decision back then that was the toughest I've had to face and I've never once regretted it. I'm so thankful I had the courage to leave. I only wish Keith did, too.
SERIOUSLY, IT'S THE END OF THE SPOILERS...YARRRRRR!!!