“Breathe,” a film directed by international actress Mélanie Laurent (Shoshanna!), is located somewhere between the adolescent angst of “Fish Tank” and the exploratory joys of “Blue is the Warmest Color.” It seems counterintuitive, but Laurent is not at her best when coaxing great performances out of her young actors. Rather, her film succeeds most when she photographs them in silent anguish, isolated in large crowds of exuberant people.
Laurent charts an age-old teenage tale in “Breathe,” the journey from companionship to the moment when the waters of friendship begin to run green with envy. The rather unremarkable Claire (Joséphine Japy) finds relief from the mundanity of home and school by hanging out with her class’ newest addition, wild child Sarah (Lou De Laâge). While initially fast friends, their bond breaks slowly – then suddenly.
“Breathe” has its moments of intrigue and insight, particularly whenever one character finds it difficult to perform the action described in the title. But overall, Laurent brings little new to a fairly familiar tale. It’s worth supporting a film by a woman, about women, yet for everyone – just don’t expect to have it take your breath away. C+ /