Breathe In

Movie review by
Brian Costello, Common Sense Media
Breathe In Movie Poster Image
Midlife crises, affairs, teen drinking, sex in indie drama.
  • R
  • 2014
  • 97 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

About a family torn apart after the father begins an affair with the teen foreign-exchange student living in their house.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The married father has an affair with a teen foreign-exchange student. His daughter drives drunk and crashes her car into a tree.

Violence

A teen boy makes unwelcome and aggressive sexual advances on a teen girl while in a vehicle. He tries to force her to stay in the car in which they're kissing; when she opens the door, he orders her to close it. A teen girl drives under the influence of alcohol and crashes her car into a tree.

Sex

Teens talk openly of sex. A middle-aged married father begins an affair with a teen foreign-exchange student. The two openly touch and kiss. At a party, a teen girl drinks to excess, then makes sexual advances on a boy who had spread rumors about her having sex with him after a party.

Language

"S--t," "f--ked." A teen girl is called a "slut" by other girls in a high school hallway after rumors spread that she had sex with a boy after a party.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Teens drink to excess at parties. Teen girls order drinks at a nightclub. A teen girl drinks to excess at a party, then crashes her car into a tree. A middle-aged father drinks beer with the teen foreign-exchange student living with them. Adults drink wine and beer at dinner and at a barbeque. Cigarette smoking.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Breathe In is an earnest indie drama about a married father going through a midlife crisis who begins an affair with the teen foreign-exchange student who has moved in with them. The movie does not shy away from teens drinking at parties and talking openly about sex. A teen boy kisses a teen girl in his car after a party; he begins making unwelcome sexual advances, and when the girl tries to leave the vehicle, he attempts to force her to stay. This boy later spreads rumors that the girl actually had sex with him, resulting in some bullying scenes in which other teen girls call her a "slut." This same girl is later shown driving drunk after a party in which -- in a moment of deep despair over what has transpired between her father and the foreign-exchange student -- she makes sexual advances toward the same boy who spread rumors about her. She ends up losing control of her car and crashing it into a tree. There's profanity ("f--k") and a slow boil of sexual undertones between the father and foreign-exchange student, culminating in touching and kissing.

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What's the story?

Keith Reynolds (Guy Pearce) works as a high school music teacher with his wife, Megan, and daughter, Lauren, in upstate New York. He wants a career change and listens to recordings of his old band from decades ago; in short, Keith is going through a midlife crisis. This is when Sophie (Felicity Jones), an intensely gifted pianist, moves into their house as a foreign-exchange student. Lauren and Sophie slowly become friends as they begin going to parties, drinking, and meeting boys. As Lauren must contend with false rumors concerning her sexual activity with a boy, a growing bond develops between Keith and Sophie. This bond becomes an attraction that threatens to destroy the Reynolds family, as Keith begins to consider a completely new life by leaving his wife and daughter to try and make something happen with 18-year-old Sophie.

Is it any good?

BREATHE IN is a slow-paced indie drama with superb acting from a talented cast. It does not shy away from attempting to show the real problems teenagers face in terms of sex and drinking or of older characters who feel as if they have reached a crossroads in their lives. Nothing is sugarcoated, and the lives of these characters are painted in full and with respect for what they're contending with.

Despite the undeniable quality in the direction, acting, and writing, the problem, ultimately, is the subject matter itself. It's hard to feel too much sympathy for an affluent-enough, middle-aged man with a nice house and loving family who is torpedoing everything because he's somewhat dissatisfied, and this dissatisfaction is heightened when a beautiful 18-year-old British girl comes to live with them. As a topic in film, the midlife crisis has been done many times, and this version doesn't really put a new spin on the subject. While clearly a heartfelt movie, and no matter the quality, the problem of how this character deals with his midlife crisis is just as likely to provoke anger as thought.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how teenagers are shown in this movie. Do the scenes in which teens openly discuss (or engage in) sex and drinking seem like an accurate portrayal of what it's like for teens today? Why, or why not?

  • How is this movie similar to and different from other movies in which characters go through midlife crises?

  • Were any of the characters likable? Sympathetic? Which ones?

Movie details

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