The first time I saw Mélanie Laurent act was in Je vais bien, ne t’en fais pas (2006), a film unreleased in Spain and directed by Philippe Lioret released internationally as Don’t Worry, I’m Fine. In it I met her with the nickname Lili, a name that for several reasons I have not forgotten, although one of them and the main one is the song U Turn (Lili), main theme of the original soundtrack of the film, which the character of her brother dedicated her and it was performed by the French duo Aaron.
Although I have since followed her career with interest, it was not until her first musical foray in 2011 —En t’attendant— that she definitively attracted my attention. Her imperfect and unique beauty, full of character and personality, was then united with a voice full of sensitivity and a French accent—which in music amounts to the same thing. After these two approaches, I would say that I was seduced by her acting talent and intelligence as much as by her look. Today, however, I believe she has surpassed and disarmed me; Mélanie Laurent also directs, Breathe (2014), Respire in French, is her second feature film and the crush, after the credits roll, now feels permanent. How simple nudity seems!
Breathe traces a path and her ideas are clear. Dependency, imbalance and emotional immaturity. People, seemingly empty, who fill us. We are attracted to their world, the energy they transmit, the mutual understanding, the complicity. Sometimes, without realizing it, these people are nothing more than a reflection of what we in turn mean to other people. In this film, we witness the birth and evolution of a relationship starring two 17-year-old girls, personified by the actresses Josephine Japy and the femme fatale (here) Lou De Laâge.
At the beginning of the film, the characters do not introduce themselves, they get to know each other through the different layers that make up their personalities, as the film progresses. The evolutions, the changes, the psychology, are shown in a kind of live for us, we are part of it. In this sense, the naturalness of the actresses stands out, perfect in their respective roles. Interpretive naturalness, by the way, which would explain, for example, why dubbing —sometimes— is completely unnecessary.
Perhaps influenced by her work under the orders of other directors, the actress, singer and here filmmaker Mélanie Laurent, demonstrates in each shot a visual skill rarely seen in someone of her age —31 years in 2014— and without the need for great technical boasts. She highlights the sequence shot that follows the actress Lou de Laâge on her journey home and which ends up being a tracking shot. A narrative full of virtues, magnetic, with a charm rarely seen, truthful and spontaneous. The story emerges from the depth and silences towards high levels of cinema.
Breathe… her breath — An exciting, emotional, personal and close film
Sometimes, when talking about some movies, it is often said that they breathe life. Breathe breathes it in all at once, fills itself with it and expels it constantly, exhaling more energetic bursts at certain moments of the footage, as an asthma patient would do in the middle of an attack. Breathe is life and feeling, passion, contained in some cases, released in others. Rarely have substance and form exploited in such a synchronized way the virtues and defects of youth and the relationships forged during this stage.
Its great defect, so to speak, is that it was born eclipsed by the long shadow of Blue Is the Warmest Color (2013). It is difficult not to remember and compare it with that one at the beginning, because if something is clear from seeing both, it is that blue is the warmest color, making here a perfect use of colors and a more than remarkable photograph. However, they have little in common beyond the environment.
Breathe is exciting, emotional, personal and close. A study of human relationships, always in search of contact. It raises questions and uncertainties: are we, deep down, like our parents? When the time comes to experience their same experiences, have we learned something from their mistakes? Does passion make us freer or does it monopolize our being until it becomes an obsession? Why do we always forgive? Because we always forgive, right? Although something always remains in the memory. Like an evocative summer love.
Ephemeral sand castles. Smoke coming from cigarettes. The breeze. One more night, fragility. The edge of the bed. Friendship. You and I. Public toilets. Nuits fauves. The days dedicated only to her. Serotonin. Summer plans. The water under your feet. Twists of destiny suspended in your hands. In her breath…
I watched and rated Breathe on Monday Jan 26, 2015
(Madrid, 1987) Novelist by vocation, SEO specialist by profession. Music lover, cinephile and reading lover, but in “amateur” mode.