Breathe In (15)

Directed by Drake Doremus
Starring: Guy Pearce, Felicity Jones, Amy Ryan, Mackenzie Davis
FACT Liverpool
From 19th July 2013

Reviewed by Joe Coventry

From Major To Minor

Director Drake Doremus has picked on an old and trusted formula for his latest offering, but this perennial theme is starting to be drained of its life juices.

Comfortably married Keith (Guy Pearce) and Megan (Amy Ryan), host 'butter wouldn't melt in her mouth' 18- year-old British music exchange student Sophie (FelicityJones) in idyllic surroundings outside New York. Needless to say the beautiful, impeccably accented interloper upsets the apple cart goodstyle, in the process destabilising a marriage and disrupting daughter Lauren's (Mackenzie Davis) lovelife, all while being Miss Perfect at the piano.

A slight familial sense of foreboding is evidenced before she even turns up as they speculate over dinner on what her arrival will portend. Why indeed has she been assigned to the mediocre musical outback of a school where Keith teaches music at all, when she is obviously such a high flyer? He is unhappily reduced to a mundane if secure existence at work whilst also playing second cello in a city orchestra and when he hears his new protege perform to her new classmates realises that her talents far outstrip his.

Lauren is not musical, but is a good swimmer, and the college team is looked after by her mum. At an outdoor contest there is a torrential downpour in which everyone scatters for cover; Keith takes Sophie home in his jeep while the rest of the swimming party is dropped off by Megan. In the dark interior of the house both strip off their wet clothes and drink some incriminatory bottles of beer. She then teaches him how to relax for an upcoming audition before both share some mood music at the piano. Megan arrives home and smells a rat.

Relationships continue to unravel as Sophie reluctantly tries her hand with Lauren's over her demanding boyfriend, in the process showing how sexy she can be at a party; but she survives to face his resentment and her dismay next day. The poor daughter continues to crack up and gets so distraught that when the worse for wear becomes increasingly unreliable driving her new car.

Meanwhile at home, mealtimes have become fractious. When Keith receives a phone call to say he has been made Head of Department Megan sarcastically celebrates with ice-cream but he has already decided to do a runner with Sophie after one last evening concert performance. Blissfully on her way to meet him and oblivious of the dangers of the subway, soon the die will be cast, or will it?

While the performances were good and the soundtrack passable enough, most the action was sterile. This story of stunted male mid-life crisis, (why do expensive ornaments always bear the brunt of the wife's angst?), needed spicing up. The recent pianocentric film Stoker, tested its actors much more than this hour and a half, and who can forget Jack Nicholson in Five Easy Pieces? Now if someone could pull a few strings in that direction.....

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