“Another thing to like about Breathe In is that it really makes one think and assess where one is in life, with it really striking close to home for me…”



by Martin Hafer

Breathe In is a film whose plot sounds a bit salacious. And, considering it’s rated R, I was a bit apprehensive about seeing the movie. After all, the film is about a man who falls in love with the high-school exchange student who he and his wife took into their home. However, the film turned out to be extremely well made and not at all what I expected. And, I have no idea why it’s rated R, as the film has no nudity, violence and the language is awfully tame. Overall, it’s well worth your time finding this film–and it’s available as of this week with Netflix.

Breathe In
Directed by
Drake Doremus
Felicity Jones, Guy Pearce, Mackenzie Davis
Release Date
Out Now
Martin’s Grade: A-

When the story begins, Keith Reynolds (Guy Pearce) and his wife Megan (Amy Ryan) seem to have a very good life. Their daughter is a pretty high school athlete, they have a lovely home in the suburbs and the marriage seems strong. All of this is shaken shortly after they take in Sophie (Felicity Jones)–an exchange student from Britain. You begin to notice that there are some problems in the Reynolds marriage. Keith is a frustrated musician who dreams of leaving his teaching job to be a full-time musician. However, Megan won’t even consider this and insists that he must continue working to keep the family just as it is now. She’s also quite dismissive of his dreams and seems to have little desire to connect with his love of music.

Here is where Sophie comes into the picture. She is a great pianist herself and loves Keith’s music. She also encourages him with his dream of joining a great orchestra. So, as the film progresses, the pair become closer and closer. And so, when they begin to feel inappropriate feelings towards each other (especially since he is her teacher), it’s not especially surprising and, in some ways, it’s expected by the viewer. However, and this is important, the film is not meant as a romance or endorsement for middle-aged men to have sex with young exchange students. Instead, it’s a character study about loneliness within a marriage–loneliness which may push someone to consider making some very stupid choices.
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So why do I recommend the film? Well, the film is so well made in so many ways. The acting (particularly by Pearce and Jones) is so good because it seems very realistic. And, the director did a nice job of combining this acting, a nice and provocative script with some really wonderful emotive music wrapped up in a great little package. Another thing to like about Breathe In is that it really makes one think and assess where one is in life, with it really striking close to home for me and my own marriage. For me, it was actually very affirming because my own wife went through a mid-life crisis like Keith Reynolds–wanting to give up a very lucrative career as an engineer to become a fiction writer. But, unlike Megan, I thought this was great. Sure, it might mean giving up a lot for the family so that she could follow her dream…but we also knew it would kill her if she didn’t–and she is worth the sacrifice. And, in the end, we are all so much better for it–she is quite successful and the change has definitely been for the better for not just her but the entire family.

As I mentioned above, this film just came out on Netflix this week and is well worth seeing–particularly with your partner or other loved ones. Don’t worry about the R rating–it’s also fine for you to see with your teens or mother!