An unhappily married man falls for a youthful, attractive woman half his age whom he believes will release him from his imaginary prison—sound familiar? Probably, but with the writing and directing talents of Drake Doremus, “Breathe In” manages to resuscitate this overused plot.
Set in upstate New York, the story pivots around the character Keith Reynolds (Guy Pearce), an ex-guitarist whose passion and hobbies have been repressed in favor of a suffocating teaching job and family life with his wife Megan (Amy Ryan) and daughter Lauren (Mackenzie Davis).
During Lauren’s senior year of high school, Keith and his family decide to take in an exchange student. Enter Sophie (Felicity Jones), a sweet and guarded student from England whose presence dampens Keith’s seemingly fragile marriage and career responsibilities.
Doremus’ breakthrough feature, “Like Crazy” (2011), which also stars Jones, presented a relevant story about the ups and downs of long distance relationships. With “Breathe In,” Doremus does not quite sustain the same handle on the plot as he served with “Like Crazy,” but with this film he crafts more mature, fleshed out characters in comparison.
The script, provided by Doremus and his writing partner, Ben York Jones (“Douchebag,” 2010), does not include as much dialogue as one would anticipate from a movie like this. Most of the narrative is layered with subtext rather than explicitly revealing details. Because of this, a great deal of the film falls on the cast’s shoulders. Luckily, the talent is more than up for the task.
Pearce (“Memento,” 2000) gives one of his finest performances in late years as the vulnerable and deprived Keith. He perfectly captures his character’s crushing regrets and immature idealism of a midlife crisis. His steady unraveling at Sophie’s touch is an alluring sight.
Jones again proves that she is a prominent actress that demands to be seen more often in films. While her role is somewhat stereotypical— a bright and gifted English student— Jones goes above and beyond the page to show how intricate Sophie is.
“Breathe In” may not be as tender and inviting as some of Doremus’ earlier work, merely it’s a film worthy of your time if you favor features textured with powerful performances and fantastic music.
“Breathe In” opens today at Angelika Film Center in Dallas and Plano.
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Previously published on NTDaily.com.
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