Breathe In (2013) Directed by Drake Doremus. With Guy Pearce, Felicity Jones, Amy Ryan and Mackenzie Davis.
Loss and discovery of passion is a theme that drives forward the narrative of co-writer-director Drake Doremus’ Breathe In, which stars Guy Pearce as a music teacher whose idyllic family life is shaken up with the arrival a gifted young house-guest in the form of Sophie (Felicity Jones).
Set in a small upstate New York town, John Guleserian’s cinematography effectively captures the beauty and underlying wistfulness that accompanies much of the piece. Pearce’s character loves his family, yet we sense he’s emotionally bored and fenced-in by his world. We meet a man who should have never settled down; a man whose life has conspired for and against him. His decision to have a daughter has been a blessing and a curse, and his relationship with his wife (Amy Ryan) is dutiful, but passionless. He aches to go back to the city, to be inspired and to create, while his wife appears happy to preserve their bubble of domestic bliss. Enter into the fray a beautiful, emotionally mature and talented young woman – and things get complicated.
The performances from Pearce and Jones are never anything less than excellent. She ignites something inside of him that makes him want to press the reset button on life. Creative frustration and the death of passion are soul-sapping for anyone who once enjoyed their fruits. Through the temptation of Jones’ inquisitive, free-spirited youth – Pearce plays the aching torment in a way that has us, if not siding with him entirely, at least feeling a degree of empathy for his plight. In her performance, Felicity Jones finds a fine line of disconcerting confidence. A deeply intelligent young woman with astonishing levels of talent – she represents a challenge that Pearce’s character hasn’t had for a long time.
The plot occurrences in the final third bow a little too readily to movie convention, but thanks to its beautiful, intimate photography and engaging central performances, Breathe In easily stays afloat to live as a telling piece of drama about the heart-breaking spectre of regret that can seep into all of our lives. 3.5/5