Sigh. It’s a shame that Breathe’s final shot (like, really, the final three seconds of the film) is such a fuck you to the audience that just watched this otherwise exceptional drama. How does the last moment feel? Imagine you ate a beautiful meal at a three-Michelin-star restaurant and were told afterward that the sous-chef pissed in your soufflé. Or imagine that you’d watched all nine seasons of How I Met Your Mother only to find out it was a shaggy dog joke.


That’s how Breathe feels. But even though the final three seconds are regrettable, that doesn’t mean the preceding 4,980 are shit. In fact, Breathe is, in all other ways, wonderful. Director and co-writer Mélanie Laurent (usually seen in front of the camera) crafts a heartbreaking tale of teenage cruelty. When quiet Charlie (Joséphine Japy) quickly befriends new kid and bad-ass Sarah (Lou de Laâge), it seems like a match made in high school heaven. But Sarah is a little too bad-ass for emotionally damaged Sarah, who’s reeling from her parents’ umpteenth split.


It doesn’t help that Sarah makes Charlie feel like the heel for all the rotten things she does. If you can overlook the final three seconds (seriously, that’s all you need to do), this is one of the best films ever made about the horrible way kids treat each other, the reasons they do it and the emotional damage done.



Directed by Mélanie Laurent

With Japy and de Laâge

The Screen

90 min.