BREATHE does not so much jump genres as turn into its own, sui-generis example. In the annals of oh-my-god-how-did-we-get-here? stories, this one is a keeper: psychologically, emotionally and intellectually sound.
Mélanie Laurent (shown at right) -- the film's director and co-adapter (with Julien Lamborschini) of the novel by Anne-Sophie Brasme -- is best known as an international actress of some repute (Enemy, Inglorious Basterds and Now You See Me, plus, in her home country, a couple dozen good French films). Breathe is her second full-length feature as writer/director (her first, The Adopted, was not released over here), and by any standard, it's a good one. Tracking the life of a very pretty, intelligent, somewhat shy and unformed high-school girl, the movie stays close to the kind of reality with which most of us can identify, having lived through something at least vaguely similar while growing up.
Joséphine Japy (two photos above) gives the kind of fluid, moment-to-moment performance that allows us to see the inner and outer young woman equally well. Matching Ms Japy is her co-star, Lou de Laâge (above, left), who, as the new student Sarah, creates a figure of sophistication, sex appeal, mystery and occasional vulnerability and nastiness that begins to haunt us just as she does Charlie.
Isabelle Carré especially commendable as Charlie's emotionally-abused but all-to-wiling-to-go-there mother.
Film Movement and running a succinct 91 minutes, Ms Laurent's movie opens this Friday September 11, in New York City at the IFC Center and on Friday, September 18, in Los Angeles at Laemmle's Royal. To view all currently scheduled playdates, click here and scroll down.