TIFF 2014 Review: Breathe
When we glance in on a high school teacher discussing that which makes up passion and its subsequent consequences, something intense is sure to follow for the proper and pensive Charlie (Joséphine Japy).
Breathe, actress Melanie Laurent’s directorial debut, is a familiar yet deftly-executed teenage drama, centering on the rise and turbulent relationship between Charlie and new girl Sarah.
She is the free-loving one, the sultry, confident type and immediately Charlie’s shy nature, rocky home life and close friendship with classmate Victoire take a backseat. The two become inseparable, and Laurent is effective as showing their burdening friendship (Laurent’s parties actually feel like real parties, for one).
The aforementioned passion gives way to a variety of strange feelings and revelations. Nothing is particularly novel – Breathe certainly evokes last year’s Blue is the Warmest Color with its look and feel – but everything that Laurent does is potent and consistent.
The haunting quality of the film sneaks up, and Laurent skillfully creates chilling images and uses music to move from bliss to anxiety. There is such great attention to detail; the camera is so attached to Charlie that despite her being one of the quietest characters, we seem to know her so well. She isn’t complex, just complicated.
She’s as well informed by her mother, a woman who struggles to shake free Charlie’s oppressive father. A countryside retreat offers escape for some, but it’s a telling vacation for the chaste Charlie, whose conflicting, yet unexpressed feelings will irrevocably alter her life.