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01 February 2015 à 07:36

Review of Breathe in Télérama Magazine

Check out the reviews by our partner Télérama Magazine of each of the feature films in competition at MyFrenchFilmFestival.

Today's review:


Drama directed by Mélanie Laurent in 2014
Starring Lou de Laâge, Joséphine Japy, Roxane Duran... 
Release date in France: November 12, 2014
Rating: 3/5


When new girl Sarah arrives at 17-year-old Charlie's high school, her life is turned upside down. Charlie cuts ties with her best friend, Victoire, and, unaware of the risks involved, suffers under the increasing influence of the beautiful and reckless Sarah. Sarah is well aware of the control she has over Charlie, and before long begins to abuse her power. Mesmerized by Sarah, Charlie does not understand her change in attitude, and allows herself to be pushed around, convinced that their friendship is strong enough to overcome anything. Charlie's friends and family can't understand why she allows herself to be manipulated, and become concerned for her wellbeing, especially as Charlie starts to suffer from anxiety attacks in which she can no longer breathe...


After her debut film which sought (unsuccessfully) to find a balance between drama and fantasy, Mélanie Laurent is back walking the tightrope, this time between genre film and psychological drama. Sarah, a beautiful and liberated young girl, arrives mid-term at a high school where she meets Charlie, a shy teenager who is suffering from her parents' constant breakups and reconciliations. The two girls soon become inseparable. That is, until this new cool, sexy girlfriend transforms into a cold manipulator. Harassed and humiliated, Charlie starts to lose her grip on life. Director Mélanie Laurent has succeeded in infusing this budding friendship with a potent sense of unease. Underneath the apparent banality of this story of teenagers growing up is a looming violence. In one particularly disturbing scene, Sarah, who has just learned of her friend's father's infidelities, brashly interrupts a phone conversation between Charlie's parents: we see a blend of anger and indifference in Sarah's terrifying act, as the director deftly plays with the conventions of impending horror...

However, when stylization gives way to psychology, the plot falters. It becomes overbearing when we are shown how Charlie, kowtowing to the demands of her persecutor, only imitates the reaction of her mother, a willing victim of a manipulative spouse. Breathe nonetheless reveals the talents of two promising young actresses, Lou de Laâge, who shows a striking ability to switch from affection to sadism in a single shot, and Joséphine Japy, who, without resorting to hysteria, walks a tightrope of her own that drives her to the edge of insanity.

Review by Mathilde Blottière for Télérama Magazine.

© Télérama

Author : Aurélie Padovan

Latest update : 01 February 2015 à 07:36 CET

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MyFrenchFilmFestival - 2015

Type : UniFrance festival

Theme : French films