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Philippe Thompson Written by Philippe Thompson
Sep. 15, 2015 | 9:09 PM





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BREATHE (2015)

BREATHE



Breathe, Mélanie Laurent’s follow-up feature to The Adopted, is an adaptation of Anne-Sophie Brasme’s novel of the same title.  After reading the novel at age seventeen, Laurent knew she wanted to adapt Breathe to the big screen (The Director’s Interview by Film Movement).  In the film, Laurent captures the intimate relationship between two seventeen year-old girls from the novel that turns toxic and then some.

As Laurent brings us into the world of Charlene “Charlie” Citrinovic (Joséphine Japy), Charlie appears to be a typical high school student in France, but with parents in a tenuous relationship.  Charlie excels in school and even has a clique, including her best friend Victoire (Roxane Duran).  Charlie’s routine continues unabated until new student Sarah Perrin (Lou De Laâge) arrives.  Charlie and Sarah become instant friends, spending every waking moment together.  The plot thickens when Charlie invites Sarah to join her on a short family vacation during the All Saints’ Day (La Toussaint) Holiday.

During the trip, Sarah’s temperament provides subtle hints that something is not right.  When Charlie introduces Sarah as her classmate, Sarah is livid: “I’m just a classmate to you?”  One night, Charlie’s family and friends get together for drinks.  Charlie and Sarah, who share a room, share secrets and past relationships before they retire for night.  Sarah and Charlie’s mother Vanessa (Isabelle Carré), vie after a Spanish guy named Esteban (Alejandro Albarracín). While Sarah jokes with Charlie about Esteban, Sarah roleplays as Esteban and then kisses Charlie on the lips.  Sensing that Charlie does not appreciate her advances, Sarah slaps Charlie’s face and storms out of the room.  After this pivotal moment, the relationship between Charlie and Sarah is not same.  Charlie becomes disengaged, receding into silence, while Sarah seeks affirmation elsewhere. 

Eventually Sarah turns on Charlie, bullying her in order to advance her social status at school.  A despondent Charlie internalizes the abuse, keeping her family and friends in the dark and causing them to worry.  As Charlie and Sarah’s love-hate relationship escalates in intensity, Charlie can no longer “breathe,” both emotionally and physically.  Breathe’s rising action climaxes as Charlie unravels Sarah’s web of lies, causing Sarah to unleash a vicious verbal affront to get “even.”  Japy’s portrayal of Charlie is superb and De Laâge’s devil-may-care attitude captivates.  We lose our breath, unaware of where Laurent’s rollercoaster ride will take us.

Breathe, Mélanie Laurent’s follow-up feature to The Adopted, is an adaptation of Anne-Sophie Brasme’s novel of the same title.  After reading the novel at age seventeen, Laurent knew she wanted to adapt Breathe to the big screen (The Director’s Interview by Film Movement).  In the film, Laurent captures the intimate relationship between two seventeen year-old girls from the novel that turns toxic and then some.



Breathe
Directed by Mélanie Laurent
Rating: NR
Running Time: 91 minutes
France (2014) / Drama / French with English Subtitles / Stereo and 5.1 Surround Sound


In theaters
Breathe is now playing at the following locations:
• IFC Center in New York as of September 11th;
• Laemmle Royal in LA and Playhouse 7 in Pasadena as of September 18th;
• Regency South Coast Village in Santa Ana and at the Camelot in Palm Springs on September 25th;
• A national release will follow.

Breathe, adapted from Anne-Sophie Brasme’s novel of the same title, will have a movie tie-in edition published by St Martin’s Griffin on September 15.


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