What: Breath (Roadshow Films)
Who: Screenplay by Simon Baker and Gerard Lee adapted from the Tim Winton novel, directed by Simon Baker
When: In cinemas nationwide now
Upon first seeing the trailer for this new Australian film, I felt compelled to see Breath during its cinematic release. It promised entrancing surf cinematography and a tense plot, steeped in nostalgia. After seeing the film, I realised it fell short of all expectations.
Breath follows Pikelet and Loonie (Samson Coulter and Ben Spence) in the midst of adolescence living on Australia’s east coast in the 1970’s. When Sando (Simon Baker) arrives in their town with his sultry wife Eva (Elizabeth Debicki), the boys become enraptured by Sando’s graceful surfing. Pikelet and Loonie soon devote themselves to the waves, experiencing the adrenalin and euphoria, unaware of the turmoil ahead.
The most outstanding moments throughout the film were the scenes in the surf. The beautiful curve of the waves and the underwater shots are truly absorbing. The scenes not only encapsulate the elation of surfing, but also the fear of an approaching monster wave. That being said, these moments were few and far between, and were not the central scenes within the film. This was disappointing considering the brilliance of those short scenes.
Pikelet and Loonie were excellently portrayed on screen by the two young actors, displaying an appropriate amount of restraint and fragility. Loonie was an outstanding character who provided some comic relief but didn’t get as many moments as he deserved.
These two surprising performances were unfortunately weighed down by both Sando and Eva’s presence. Simon Baker, of Mentalist fame, delivers multiple dull monologues about surfing with little to no traces of passion. In addition, Elizabeth Debicki’s character Eva seduces an underage boy, which goes from uncomfortable to near squeamish.
Ultimately, the brilliance of the surfing scenes and the acting of the young boys did not outweigh the lack-lustre portrayal of Sando and the inappropriate nature of Eva’s seduction, which dominated the plot. I can definitively say; Simon Baker’s directorial debut did not take my breath away.
1.5 out of 5 stars