A family of three, being photographed: uncomfortable, squirming in front of the technical, clinical gaze of the camera; they like each other, but there is an underlying awkwardness, a pretense of warmth, a feeling of unfamiliarity emanating from their forced gaiety.
A gorgeous, precocious exchange student encroaches upon this fragile family and all vestiges of equanimity are shattered, deep- rooted frustrations, long dormant, erupt and lives are altered.
Guy Pearce as “Keith Reynolds”, sporting the grunge look, lacks conviction; he is a middle-aged high school piano teacher, a part -time cellist, barely communicating with his wife “Megan” (Amy Ryan) and totally uncomprehending of his seventeen year-old daughter “Lauren” (Mackenzie Davis). Keith is the quintessential candidate for English femme fatale, piano prodigy “Sophie” (Felicity Jones, blessed with a countenance worthy of launching a thousand films); within days of moving in she becomes his muse; unsure of her thought process, recognizing in Keith her own demons; freedom of choice, eliminating “ties that bind” is her mission.
“Breathe In” (a euphuism for conquering one’s fears) is contrived; predictability rears its flimsy facade and fells what could have been an intriguing scenario. Sophie appears years wiser than her chronological age, Keith, years younger; their relationship is stilted, manufactured and zestless.
“Breathe In” is a sad, miserly film that left me in dire need of a breath of fresh air.
1 &1/2 STAR!