Cannes review: Respire (Breathe)

Respire, which is based on the French author Anne-Sophie Brasme’s popular novel Breathe, delves into the topics of friendship, love and abuse through the life of a 17-year-old girl.
Lou de Laâge, left, and Joséphine Japy in a scene from Respire (Breath). Courtesy Gaumont
Lou de Laâge, left, and Joséphine Japy in a scene from Respire (Breath). Courtesy Gaumont

Respire (Breathe)

Director: Mélanie Laurent

Starring: Joséphine Japy, Lou De Laâge, Isabelle Carré

Respire, screening as part of Critics’ Week, delves into the topics of friendship, love and abuse through the life of a 17-year-old girl named Charlie, played by Joséphine Japy. Charlie’s parents are going through a rough patch, prompted by infidelity, when a rebellious student named Sarah (Lou De Laâge), is transferred in from her mother’s expatriate outpost in Nigeria.

Based on Breathe, the French author Anne-Sophie Brasme’s popular novel, as the story unfolds, the pair become fast friends only to have their relationship become toxic and dysfunctional – swerving quickly from euphoria to hate and destruction.

The French actress Mélanie Laurent, who starred in Inglourious Basterds (2009) and appeared on-screen in her first feature, The Adopted (2001), has co-written the screenplay and goes behind the camera to direct, this time around. Despite dealing with complex emotions, she brings a beautiful simplicity to the proceedings. The film features some gorgeous cinematography, including lingering shots of a pensive Charlie walking alone by the sea or in a field of wheat. Japy and De Laâge give strong performances.

Khalid Al Mahmood is an in­dependent filmmaker who has been working in the UAE since 2001

Published: May 19, 2014 04:00 AM

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