Campus film ‘Breathe’ shows relationships can be suffocating

‘Breathe’ plays at the Woodland Theater this weekend

More stories from Brian Sheridan

Campus film ‘Breathe’ shows relationships can be suffocating

Making friends isn’t always easy. Relationships can be hard to build and maintain, and may just end up being too toxic to keep around.

For 17-year-old girl Charlie (Joséphine Japy), she struggles with the latter. And when she starts hanging out with the new girl, Sarah (Lou de Laâge), it seems like it becomes more trouble than it’s worth.

In the French film “Breathe,” Director Melanie Laurent shows how an unhealthy relationship can spiral out of control.

Charlie is a quiet girl who has grown up around the destructive climate of her mom and dad’s failing relationship. At school, she continues to be the quiet one.

This becomes a theme for the rest of the movie, which can be open to interpretation on whether that’s good or bad. It allows the audience to make their own judgement on what Charlie is thinking at any given moment. However, she gives such little feedback to speculate on that she comes off as a boring and bland character for a majority of the movie.

Now, in walks Sarah, the rebellious party girl who talks about her travels around the world and all these crazy adventures, and is looking to hang out with Charlie. The two seem to hit it off — hanging out at every moment, going to all the parties. Charlie becomes less of a hermit and starts to act like she actually has a personality.

The thing I like the most about their relationship is that it feels very real. With a lot of teenage movies, dialogue can get weird and cheesy. I never really felt that during “Breathe.” This feels like something I relate to, as if I’ve seen this play out in real life before.

What I don’t like is that this on-screen relationship building takes way too long. It takes about a third of the movie and most of it isn’t interesting. Eventually you start to see events unfold and Sarah becomes the abusive alpha of the friendship.

The film starts to display the characters on a deeper emotional level. No one ever blatantly says their feelings (unlike most awful high school movies) but it’s seen in their body posture and facial expressions. You just want to know what they’re thinking and feeling. Is it friendship? Is it sexual tension? You never know.

As the story continues, the film goes on to show what happens in toxic relationships and how it’s never good to put yourself in those situations. The film leaves you angry at times, asking questions and wishing it gave you more.

I’d like to say this film left me breathless because I really wanted to use that pun, but the truth is I was very underwhelmed.

I can understand why the artistic choices made throughout the film were made, however, the choices didn’t appeal to me. Because it seems so realistic, it’s very easy to look at and see a plain piece of work since it’s not gaudy, over-the-top or too sexual for a movie about teenagers.

According to IMDb, the main characters have been nominated for multiple awards for their acting in “Breathe,” and it’s well deserved. I only wish the story had more exciting parts besides its crazy M. Night Shyamalan ending.

The film will play at 7 p.m. Feb. 5 and 6, as well as 2 p.m. Feb. 6 and 7 in the Woodland Theater.