Breathe (2015)

Breath of Life

Director: Mélanie Laurent
Running Time: 91 Minutes
Starring: Joséphine Japy, Lou de Laâge, Isabelle Carré, Claire Keim

Charlie (Joséphine Japy), a 17 year old girl tormented by constant doubt, feels alive through her new friendship with the self-confident Sarah (Lou de Laâge). The two become inseparable, but as Sarah tires of Charlie and looks for a new friend, their relationship takes an ominous turn.

Mélanie Laurent's second feature film shows confidence, highlighting the actress and model's strengths as a director. At one point, a tracking shot is utilizes during a pivotal scene. It may not be as attention grabbing as the ones utilized in Gravity or Birdman, but it's a technique perfectly utilized in an unforgettable scene.

Laurent delivers an affecting piece of work, showcasing the harmful nature of passion, at excessive levels. Adolescence and friendship are captured extremely well, with a sensitive handling. Yet the disheartening aspects are close to the bone, crafting a film which feels utterly real.

One of the stand-out aspects is the phenomenal acting. Joséphine Japy perfectly embodies Charlie, showcasing the doubts she has over herself, which disappear when she spends time with Sarah. The change in her is clear, as she feels satisfied and happy with life. But even through the more difficult moments, she's an understanding and forgiving person at heart.

Sarah is a fascinating character that's intentionally infuriating, yet understandable and sympathetic. This is thanks to the Julien Lambroschini and Mélanie Laurent's screenplay, as well as Lou de Laâge's astounding turn in the role. No matter what the nature of her relationship with Charlie, the two share fantastic chemistry.

Apologies for the painfully obvious wordplay, but Breathe is a breathtaking piece of work. Mélanie Laurent's sophomore work as a director won't be easily forgotten about, long after the credits have rolled.