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Friday, February 20, 2015

BREATHE (RESPIRE)


By D.E.Levine

A Rendez-Vous with French Cinema 2015 Selection

In the beginning of this film a high school teach tells her class that "Passion is harmful when it becomes obsessive, which is most of the time".  In class is Charlene "Charlie" (Josephine Japy) who goes to school to escape the tension and fighting between her parents, who are headed for divorce.

A new student arrives in the form of Sarah (Lou De Laage), who brings some mystery and excitement as she tells how the climate in Nigeria has become politically difficult and her mother has dispatched her to live with an aunt.  Her mother meanwhile, remains in Nigeria, working for an NGO.

Quickly forming an inseparable friendship, the two go everywhere together and tell each other their most intimate secrets to which the audience is privy.  However, when Sarah is invited to join Charlie and her family at a seaside resort for a holiday, her behavior and overt man-chasing creates fissures in the relationship.

It isn't possible to simply dismiss Sarah, who has a mixture of sadness, cruelty and hardness about her and when her real background and breeding are revealed the disclosure is shocking and brilliant simultaneously.

Perhaps because of their youth, Japy and De Laage capture the personalities and co-dependencies of Charlie and Sarah so that they are totally believable.  Directed by Melanie Laurent and photographed by Arnaud Potier, the film is a gem looking into the intimate and complex relationship of teenage girls.