Friday, September 18, 2015

Movie with Abe: Breathe

Directed by Mélanie Laurent
Released September 18, 2015

The teenage years can be an especially volatile time, and culture only contributes to that. “Mean Girls” was a particularly appropriate title to describe the behavior that often occurs with high school girls that can find someone ostracized for no reason and made miserable simply because one popular “queen bee” deems it her will and others choose to follow her every command. “Breathe” focuses on Sarah (Lou de Laâge), who takes a powerful hold over the sensible and less abrasive Charlie (Joséphine Japy), dragging her along on whatever adventures she chooses and then casting her aside whenever she feels like it.

The relationship between Sarah and Charlie is a very typical one in terms of its stark difference in the interactions when they are around others and when they are alone. When left to themselves, Sarah and Charlie experience a deep intimacy, spending every moment together and sharing more than a few secrets with each other. When they return to real life, namely school, Sarah can’t be bothered to acknowledge Charlie’s existence, and that’s the best case. When Sarah realizes that Charlie is clinging to her, she makes it her mission to eviscerate the poor girl who did nothing wrong aside from trying to be a good friend and not accepting her lower place on the totem pole.

“Breathe,” which is directed by French actress Mélanie Laurent, star of “Inglourious Basterds” and “Beginners,” is reminiscent of a cross between two recent French films. “Blue is the Warmest Color” showed the blossoming of a lesbian relationship between an impressionable high school student and an older, alluring artist. “Being 14,” which showed at the Tribeca Film Festival earlier this year, followed several French teenagers who treated each other horrendously, giving the term “mean girls” a whole new meaning. Charlie’s experience with Sarah often feels as intense as that in “Blue is the Warmest Color” even though sexual feelings for each other are never verbalized, and it approaches the level of fury and viciousness that comes with being a popular girl and using it to destructive ends. The actresses here are talented and the material is intriguing, but the film doesn’t quite make it as far as those other two in terms of fleshing out the characters and the way that they see the world according to their perceptions of each other. It’s an intriguing start, but doesn’t feel like a finished product.


No comments: