Set in the ’70s in Coastal Australia, our story focuses on two teenage boys. Like most teenage boys, they ride their bikes, causing cheeky mischief around the town and are somewhat bored with life. One day they discover a beach with a pro surfer tackling waves fearlessly. The two teenagers are impressed and encouraged to learn how to surf. They earn money by completing horrible chores and soon purchase second-hand surfboards so they can begin to learn.
While learning to surf, they meet Sando (Simon Baker), who becomes the boys surfing mentor. Sando was once a pro-surfer himself and sees the potential in these two young boys- perhaps they remind him of himself once. Sando takes the boys to surf spots that also have more massive waves that will challenge them.
Will the two boys overcome their fears of the waves and most importantly, how will this new friendship with Sando change all of their lives forever…?
For those who are unaware, Breath is based on an award-winning novel by Tim Winston. While Breath stars Australian actor Simon Baker in a lead role, Simon Baker is also the director of this film. This film is officially Simon Baker’s directional debut. I was rather curious and supportive, given the history of Simon Baker’s career.
Filmed and shot in the waters around Western Australia, Breath is a visually stunning film. The sounds and shots of the surf, waves and the creative use of underwater filming is fantastic. Because the film is based on a book, we are graced with a narrator from time to time to assist us with plot points. The two young male stars are new to the screen, and both provided fun and solid performances (Samson Coulter & Ben Spence).
The films look excellent; it has the acting… so what’s missing?
The answer is simple- something disappears when the story went to screen. Going into the cinemas the other night, I didn’t have a clue what this story was actually about. Based on the film’s poster and trailer, I felt there was something great to be told here for all Australian movie lovers. I enjoyed where the film was heading within the 1st and 2nd half of the film. Once we reached the film’s 3rd and final act, I began to feel confused, uncomfortable and sadly… utterly disappointed. Judging by the other cinema patrons in my cinema, I don’t feel I’m the only one here. The film’s third act gives minimal reward (or possibly none) and resolution. I honestly didn’t understand how this happened, and I felt like I got cheated as an audience member. I will also comment that in my opinion, the film deserves to be rated MA15 + not M as the film contains sex scenes between a young teenage boy and an older woman…
Overall, I was enjoying the story of Breath until we reached the film’s third act, which ended any joy I did have for the film. All the moments surrounding the film’s wrap up and 3rd act felt out of place and somewhat random. We also have uncomfortable moments (mostly sex scenes involving a teenage boy). Some people may love the story and might be a fan of the book, but as a film, apart from the strength in the visuals and acting, the story on screen didn’t leave me feeling “Breathless”.
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Review Written by Peter Walkden