Felicity Jones and Guy Pearce deliver terrific performances in Breathe In, the absorbing tale of an outsider who shakes up the lives of an outwardly happy family.
Exchange student Sophie (Jones) stirs up unfulfilled longings in frustrated high-school music teacher Keith (Pearce) when she comes to stay with his family in suburban Westchester County. With his wife (Amy Ryan) sniping at his musical ambitions from the sidelines, and his daughter (Mackenzie Davis) going through her own romantic turmoil at school, he finds himself drawing perilously close to the soulful and talented Sophie.
Improvising their dialogue, Jones and Pearce create compelling characters, while American indie filmmaker Drake Doremus, who directed Jones in bittersweet romance Like Crazy,, handles the potentially icky older man-younger-woman relationship with restraint.
It does get rather melodramatic and overwrought towards the end, and one whopping coincidence almost derails the plot completely, but for the most part this is a sensitive and intelligent drama, and moment when Jones’s Sophie reveals her pianistic talent with an explosive performance of a Chopin ballade will take your breath away.
Released on DVD and Blu-ray by Curzon Film World on Monday 7th October.
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