Breathe In (2013) – Drake Doremus (dir.)

Breathe In - happy family

Breathe In – happy family

Spoiler alert. DON’T read this review if you plan to see this film!

This is a stereotypical film, with stereotypical characters, a stereotypical plot and a stereotypical end.

Four main characters:

The husband. Reaching the dangerous age and the mid age crisis. A musician, but not as good as he would like and in the old adage, those who can’t do, teach. He plays occasionally in a local orchestra and is going for a better job, but he has lost the confidence of youth and doubts if he will get it. At the same time he seems to be doing quite well. After all how many homes do you know that have a baby grand piano in the entrance hall?

The wife. Dutiful, has worked ‘hard’ to provide her husband with a good and secure home, with all the trimmings. Has successfully brought up their daughter. Her biggest aim in life is to amass the biggest collection of ceramic biscuit barrels – a quite unique challenge. Supportive of her husband but with a bit of an acid tongue which means she doesn’t always go the whole way in carrying out her traditional marital role in being a dutiful wife. An organizer, but mainly of domestic trivia.

The daughter. Thinks she’s an adult but really immature, perhaps the result of being brought up in a biscuit barrel collecting household. Not an intellectual or a musician but an athlete. Considers she can take a relationship break-up but inside she is hurting. Reaches the age of 18 during the course of the film and does a little girl dance when presented with a new car on her birthday. That dance could have been seen as a bit of a joke if it wasn’t for what else happens in her life, she is really still a little girl. A poor little rich girl – if not millionaire status.

The outsider (and home-wrecker). She is literally an outsider. She British on a sabbatical in a north American town. She is truly a genius as a musician – which she shows when the husband (for some inexplicable reason) tries to humiliate her on her first day in the piano class he teaches. Why she would be attracted to him after that episode is a wonder. She’s mature for her age, in that way the opposite to the daughter, and is told so by the husband when they have an innocent few beers after a swimming gala gets washed out. But she comes with her own baggage. Father dies at an early age, lived with her uncle, to whom she was very close, and he has died just before she leaves for America. That death has meant that she has rejected the piano as it brings back too many bad memories – the uncle was a brilliant pianist as well.

The Plot. There’s not a great one. Intimate, guilty eye contact between the Outsider and the Husband from the beginning. She understands him. She may not intend to do so but she effectively seduces him after finding the local boys immature and after only one thing. They make a very amateurish and last minute plan to run away together. But before they get any further than a few miles down the road a message is received that the daughter, now aware that there is something going on between her father and the outsider, gets stupidly drunk and crashes her new car.

The mad rush to the hospital. The unity between mother and father over what they have in common, i.e., their daughter, this after the mother had also realised through the empty wardrobes that the two had run away together and as a consequence, in her anger, had broken some of her ceramic biscuit barrels – an indication that the family equilibrium had been disturbed.

The last time we see the Outsider she is sitting alone, beside the baby grand, when the parents come home from the hospital. The daughter is not seriously hurt. Her pretty features are undamgaed and all she sports is a plaster over one of her eyes.

The next (and last) scene is a repeat of the one that opened the film. The three of them are in the garden of the house having their photos taken by a professional photographer, this is obviously an annual ‘family tradition’. They all smile. Any transgressions have been forgiven.

The fourth person is absent.

Family values have won the day.