It’s no secret that I think Felicity Jones is kind of a big deal. I recently saw her in The Theory of Everything which earned her an Oscar nomination. Jones plays the ex-wife of Steven Hawkings and does an incredible job, showing vulnerability and strength to her performance. However my favourite role of hers is in the 2011 indie hit Like Crazy, it’s such a beautiful and intimate film which feels very natural and heartfelt.
Now I had heard of Breathe In before but never got the chance to watch it. However, if I’m serious about my admiration for Jones (except I will never watch Chalet Girl) I had to watch Breath In, which also co stars Guy Pearce. The film was directed by Drake Doremus, who also made Like Crazy and reunites with Jones for a far more sombre affair (no puns intended). Jones stars as a young British student Sophie, who forms a close attachment to Keith Reynolds, played by Guy Pearce.
Drake Doremus is known for his “blank canvas” approach to filmmaking. He would give the actors a detailed description of the the scene setting and allow the actors to improvise. Felicity Jones states that it was slightly more poised and constructed than Like Crazy but had a very similar vibe whilst filming. You can definitely feel an authenticity in the performances and that’s what I love about Felicity Jones, there’s a hardness yet a softness. She knows to to rein it in yet express herself.
Felicity Jones also describes Breath In as having a classical feel. This is conveyed by not only the beautiful cinematography, but the soundtrack. The album features the film’s original score composed by Dustin O’Halloran, who previously collaborated with the director on Like Crazy. It is a soothing piece of music drenched in melancholy. The soft piano sounds perfectly reflect the characters emotions and compliment the lovely blue colour scheme of the film. Sometimes the characters don’t need to say anything, the music and the locations say the rest. It’s almost as if they’re other characters in the film.
In all honesty, Like Crazy is my favourite film out of the two. There was a raw and stripped back approach with substance and compelling characters. The thing that lets Breathe In down slightly, is that lack of plot. Not a lot happens in the film, it’s a slow burner. But I understand what the director was going for, more emotion and character over plot. In that case it works, but even then I felt like I needed a bit more from the film. Even the ending is quite underwhelming, but honest. Where as with Like Crazy there was more to get from the film.
Breathe In is an interesting film to analyse. On one hand yes, it is about an affair, but it’s not as cliched as it sounds nor does it overdramatise it. You understand the attraction to each other, without condoning it, but the way it’s dealt with is quite refreshing. I don’t want to give too much away but basically, actions have consequences.
Guy Pearce plays an aspiring musician who uses his talents to teach a High School music class. Yet Megan Reynolds (Amy Ryan) is less supportive of his dream to gain the chair of an orchestra and move to New York. Pearce blames having a child so soon cut their care free life short which resorted them to suburban life. In all honesty, I see the wife’s point. Teaching is a respectable job and where they live is beautiful. They seem to be a fairly happy family and are well liked by friends and locals.
But when Sophie (Felicity Jones) comes along, who shares a passion for music, the dynamic of the Reynolds family changes. Sophie is an enigmatic character, a character hard to read at first. She’s a mature soul who seems to have lost a zest for life, unsure of herself and almost like she’s lost a spark of passion for her music. Yet throughout the film we discover she feels she wants to feel free and is unsure of who to perform her music for. She wants to chose to play, not be told to play. Felicity Jones perfectly conveys all these conflicted emotions that Sophie feels. There is a freshness and conviction in Felicity Jones’ performance, that keeps you watching waiting to see what she unfolds with her character.
This is a little gem in the filmography of Felicity Jones, a one which many people may have not seen. But I advise you to check it out and form an opinion yourself. It lacks substance but is a beautiful film that features great performances fro Felicity Jones and Guy Pearce. Drake Doremus’ filmmaking style is felt on film, creating an intimate and organic feel. But more importantly, you have to watch Like Crazy.
Felicity Jones can currently be seen in the Oscar nominated biopic The Theory of Everything. She can do no wrong.