There have been so many different books, movies and television shows that explore illicit relationships between older men and younger women that the storyline could probably be considered its own genre.
What that means, however, is that anyone who wants to go down that well-trodden road again better bring something truly special to the table.
Unfortunately for Breathe In, there’s nothing particularly memorable about it. It centers on the Reynolds family — father Keith (Guy Pearce), mother Megan (Amy Ryan) and daughter Lauren (Mackenzie Davis) — who welcome in a friend’s daughter, Sophie (Felicity Jones), as an exchange student from England.
There are lots of small moments that add up to the ultimate attraction, so by they cross that line, it’s no real surprise.
Keith is a high school music teacher hoping to make it as a full-time orchestra member, and Sophie, who shows much promise on the piano, seems to understand exactly what it takes to be great in that field.
As Sophie shows more and more interest in him and his work, he finds himself inexorably drawn to her.
To his credit, writer/director Drake Doremus takes his time trying to establish a connection between Keith and Sophie. There are lots of small moments that add up to the ultimate attraction, so by the time they decide to cross that line, it’s no real surprise.
But what Doremus forgets to include is any true-to-life emotion. Although the film has some original flourishes, it’s hard to escape the paint-by-numbers feel that comes with this kind of story. And because none of the four main characters stand out in any way, it’s difficult to root for or against any of them.
Doremus and co-writer Ben York Jones never give Keith any big reason to stray from his family, which is perfectly fine except that it doesn’t really make for a compelling film. The movie doesn’t seem to contain any kind of overarching message, at least not one that’s been said a million times before, so Keith just comes off as your average cheater.
Story problems aren't the fault of the actors, however. Pearce, Jones, Ryan and Davis all acquit themselves well even when the situations don’t live up their standards. Jones appears on her way to becoming Doremus’ muse, as she was also at the center of his last film, Like Crazy.
If seeing two people make poor choices that cause a family to fall apart sounds like your cup of tea, by all means put Breathe In at the top of your list. But for all of you who have seen this kind of film many times before, it’s not worth your time.