Wednesday, March 26, 2014

BREATHE IN: Drake Doremus tackles infidelity & intergenerational sex among the 40-somethings

Up to now TrustMovies has thought of indie filmmaker Drake Doremus (Spooner, Douchebag, Like Crazy) as someone very good at cataloging the doings of the younger set. Though that description may still fit the filmmaker best, his newest movie, BREATHE IN, harks back to those melodramas of the 40s, 50 and 60s in which an older man becomes smitten with a younger woman and may easily throw away his family in pursuit of the new "thrill."

For better or worse Doremus (shown at left) approaches this as though it were not one of the oldest stories in the book but rather something fresh, new and exciting. And because it is music and the love of same that brings our pair together, for a time the co-writer (with Ben York Jones) and director almost makes us believe it, too. He is helped greatly by his gifted cast, most especially Guy Pearce and Felicity Jones (on poster above, and below) in the leading roles, Amy Ryan (below, left, as Pearce's long-suffering, cookie-jar-loving wife) and Mackenzie Davis (in the penultimate photo) as the couple's ill-used child.

Mr. Pearce, as pater familias Keith, has the ability, in film after film after film, to seem to enter each character from the inside, changing his looks, emotional register, body language -- the works -- as befits the person at hand. He does it again here, and his role will not remind you of much else that Pearce has given us. Ms. Jones, whom Doremus used so well in Like Crazy, is equally fine, turning her character, Sophie, into someone young and needy but caring and intelligent, too. It's music and their great love of it that unites the two, and this is something that Keith can't really share with wife or daughter.

There a lovely scene of "introduction," as Sophie visits Keith's class and he asks her to play something for them. And we see several scenes of Keith as he performs in the local orchestra (there's constant tension between his two careers as teacher and musician). The affair, once it starts, seem less all-out sexual than it is a binding of two like souls. But of course it is hugely damaging to the family dynamics. And it is here that the movie shortchanges its characters -- and us. Coincidence plays far too heavy a hand in things, melodrama takes over, and the resolution is rushed and unfulfilling.

Doremus remains very good at feretting out the moments that count, however, particularly as the relationship between Keith and Sophie grows. But the story he's chosen to tell is such an old one, so tried-and-true, that, despite fine performances all around, without more meat on its bones, Breathe In (the title comes from an exercise Sophie gives Keith to relieve his stress) simply delivers another cautionary tale of which we've seen far too many previously, and many of them better that this.

The movie, form Cohen Media Group and running 98 minutes, opens this Friday, March 28, in New York City at the AMC Empire 25 and Village VII, and the Bowtie Chelsea Cinema, and in the Los Angeles area at Laemmle's Royal, Playhouse 7 and Town Center 5 on Friday, April 4.

The photos above are from the film itself, with the exception 
of that of Mr. Doremus, which is by Chelsea Lauren
and is used courtesy of Getty Images.

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