AWFJ Presents BREATHE – Review by Valerie Kalfrin

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Based on a novel by French author Anne-Sophie Brasme, director Mélanie Laurent’s Breathe is a story propelled by the mercurial friendships of teenage girls. The drama rises on the rich performances of its two leads, Lou de Laâge and Joséphine Japy. During their fast and intense relationship, Sarah (de Laâge) accuses Charlie (Japy) of playing the victim—but Sarah’s pretty good at that herself. There are no clear villains and heroes in the film until the tragic (no spoilers) climax.

Charlie, seventeen, seems to have a close circle of friends, including a boy who’s been sweet on her for years. Yet she’s instantly drawn to new girl Sarah, who whispers the solution to an equation to a boy who is fumbling at the whiteboard and also effortlessly poses on the balance beam. Sarah is the type of person whose confidence and magnetism make anyone on whom she showers attention feel special—and doubly crushed, as Charlie learns, when that attention disappears.

Viewers might remember Mélanie Laurent as the cinema owner with a vendetta in 2009’s Inglorious Basterds, but while she’s continued acting (Beginners, Now You See Me), she’s also worked steadily as a director. She most recently helmed The Mad Women’s Ball and is working on The Nightingale, based on Kristin Hannah’s novel.

Similar to Laurent’s 2018 feature Galveston, Breathe explores the unexpected connection between two unique characters—only here, the tension builds as we wonder how different they truly are. Continue reading

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Valerie Kalfrin

Valerie Kalfrin is an award-winning crime journalist turned freelance film writer whose work appears at RogerEbert.com, In Their Own League, Script, The Hollywood Reporter, and other outlets. Also a screenwriter and script consultant, she’s passionate about challenging stereotypes about gender and disability. Let’s tell better stories and tell stories better.