The Air I Breathe (15)

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The View Review

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Review byMatthew Turner15/05/2008

Two out of Five stars
Running time: 95 mins

Pretentious and unengaging drama that's not as clever as it thinks it is and never really gels together, despite a couple of strong performances.

What's it all about?
Based on a Chinese proverb that breaks life down into four emotional cornerstones (Happiness, Pleasure, Sorrow and Love), The Air I Breathe is a multi-character drama that tells four interconnected stories. Forest Whitaker kicks things off as Happiness, a bored banker who places a risky bet with vicious gangster Fingers (Andy Garcia) and ends up robbing a bank to pay off his debt.

The other stories revolve around: Pleasure (Brendan Fraser), an enforcer for Fingers who can see the future; Sorrow (Sarah Michelle Gellar), a pop star whose contract has been sold to Fingers against her will; and Love (Kevin Bacon), a doctor who is desperate to save the life of the woman he loves (Julie Delpy) by finding a match for her rare blood type.

The Good
No stranger to multi-character dramas after Crash, Brendan Fraser is excellent as the enforcer gradually gaining a conscience. Sarah Michelle Gellar is equally good as Sorrow and her relationship with Fraser's character is the only element of the film you actually care about.

There's also strong support from Emile Hirsch as Fingers' cocky nephew, while Andy Garcia gives good gangster throughout. However, Kevin Bacon's part is painfully underwritten, while Julie Delpy is given so little to do that she may as well not be in it at all.

The Bad
The key pleasure in a good multi-character drama lies in seeing how all the stories link up and the impact that the different characters have on each other's lives. Unfortunately, that doesn't really work here because, for all the pretentious wittering about change and fate, the final cross-over scene actually turns out to be rather lame. In addition, the stories are frustratingly underdeveloped (very little is made of Fraser's future-seeing skillz, for example) and fail to engage on an emotional level as a result.

Worth seeing?
In short, The Air I Breathe is something of a disappointment, despite its decent performances.

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The Air I Breathe (15)
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Content updated: 26/09/2015 08:26

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