Guy Pearce, Felicity Jones, Amy Ryan, Mackenzie Davis, Kyle MacLachlan / Fiction / English
Keith (Guy Pearce), a high-school music teacher and family man in well-to-do Westchester County, New York, still nurtures his dream of a life devoted to music. His bohemian ideals and his impatience with his current bourgeois situation are inflamed by the sudden arrival of Sophie (Felicity Jones), an exchange student from the UK, whose personal maturity and exceptional talent as a pianist set her apart from her classmates and drive her and Keith closer and closer together. An American family melodrama performed in half-light and conversational tones, Breathe In is a visually eloquent and emotionally powerful portrait of life roles and relationships at breaking point. The understated suspense around the development of Keith and Sophie’s relationship steadily builds, with director-writer Drake Doremus revealing great sensitivity, style and skill. The film treats all its characters, not just Keith and Sophie, with seriousness and respect. Keith’s wife (Amy Ryan) and daughter (Mackenzie Davis) are complex and interesting people whose reactions to their changing home situation compel sympathy. The whole cast give excellent support to the outstanding performances by Guy Pearce and Felicity Jones. In a strong year for American cinema, Breathe In is clearly a stand-out.
#1 / Saturday 22 June, 2013 / 01:03 GMTThis was disappointing. I can see what they were aiming for; a low-key, subtle, beautiful film. It certainly was beautiful. But it was very, very far from being subtle.
In only the second scene of the film we are shown Guy Pearce’s character reading, with an unhappy look on his face, a letter from the local school saying ‘Welcome back teachers!’. He then puts down the letter so that he can gaze longingly through some pictures of himself on stage with his old rock band. This is a cartoonish, lazy way to draw a character and is marginally insulting to the audience who, it is implied, need everything spelled out for them. It is the opposite of subtle. Every glance or gesture throughout the film was loaded with ‘meaning’, you were hit in the face with it at every turn. It just became annoying.
Leaving that aside however, along with the frustratingly large part that coincidence played in the plot, it did look good. Just maybe not the best choice for opening night.
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