Breathe (Melanie Laurent, 2014): France

Reviewed by Anissa Perez. Viewed at the AFI Fest in Hollywood.

The film Breath directed by Melanie Laurent explores the meaning of friendship in a less than conventional light. This film stars Josephine Japy as Charlie and Lou de Laage as Sarah. Both actresses do such a phenomenal job playing these two characters that the audience won’t doubt whats going on in the screen for one minute. It starts out with the main character; Charlie. she doesn’t have a stable home-life because her father is not faithful to her mother and they fight whenever they are around each other. Then Sarah comes into the picture. Sarah is the opposite of Charlie, she is outgoing, witty, and worldly. They soon become best friends and are inseparable until they get into a fight. Charlie follows Sarah home one night and discovers that Sarah has been lying about her mother being an aid worker in Africa. This scene in particular is beautifully shot when Charlie hears Sarah call the drunk woman mom , Charlie is seen right outside the window half bathed in light while Sarah is huddled within the window frame of her house as if she is trying to hide from all her problems and lies. Charlie confronts Sarah about it  and Sarah says she isnt worried about anyone knowing because if she finds out that anyone knows, she will kill Charlie. As Sarah makes her threat the music starts to get louder and the movement on the screen gets slower. Laurent edits and changes the sound so the audience can get a genuine sinking feeling as we watch these two best friends become mortal enemies. Sarah and Charlie stay apart until Charlie hears Sarah spill a very close secret with another girl in the bathroom. Charlie  tells the girl next to Sarah about her mom and Sarah turns on a load hand-dryer to drown the sound out. From that point on she makes Charlie’s life a living hell. Laurent conjures a scene where charlie and Sarah along with a class are learning about parasites. The voice from the film is stating how it slowly sucks the life out of its victim as Sarah is seen laughing behind Charlie’s back. A clear reference to how Sarah is stealing Charlies friends and turning them against her. She is even stealing the attention Charlie has over her own mother. Sarah is the parasite in Charlie’s life and wont stop until there is nothing left. This relatable coming-of-age story will hit home for many men and women who know the drama of high school. This film also has many funny scenes that off-set the comfortless second half of the movie. This film to me it the dramatic, “thinking-man’s” Mean Girls. It has the fights, the laughs and the cringe-worthy authenticity of a fantastic friendship gone horribly wrong. This film cannot be resricted to one language, country, or time period in order to be appreciated. This film is  a classic and I highly recommend seeing it.

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