Review: Breathe in

Steve Dinneen
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Cert 15 | By Steve Dinneen
Four Stars
BREATHE In is an almost unbearably tense drama about first, lost and forbidden love that will drag memories of every bad thing you’ve done in a relationship from the pit of your stomach.
Guy Pierce plays Keith, a high school teacher in the throes of a mid-life crisis, yearning for his past life as a carefree musician, before his wife Megan insisted they leave New York for a house in the ‘burbs. Megan is nice. She collects cookie jars and takes in foreign exchange students; the latter turning out to be imprudent. The student is Sophie (Felicity Jones), a raven haired English girl with doe-eyes, Cupid’s bow lips and a penchant for Jane Eyre; the antithesis of Megan and her daughter’s brassy, peroxide-blonde good looks. And boy can she play piano – an impromptu recital in Keith’s music class has him salivating into his cello (and provides much of the excellent soundtrack).
Director Drake Doermus, whose 2011 film Like Crazy won the Sundance festival’s dramatic grand jury prize, luxuriates in the tension, allowing the drama to play out at an excruciatingly slow pace. Every sideways glance and fumbled conversation is imbued with longing and dread. From the moment Keith and Sophie meet the car crash is already under way, the question is how far the bodies are going to be thrown.
Jones is pitch perfect, while a clever turn from Pierce imbibes his character with sympathy as well as contempt. It’s a tough watch (avoid taking your partner if you’ve been together more than a few years), made worthwhile by a compliment of outstanding performances.