Breath: A Coming-of-Age Surfer Drama

Simon Baker, Ben Spence, and Samson Coulter in Breathe. Courtesy of Filmrise.

Breath is an okay coming-of-age film but the Australian-set film doesn’t really add anything to the genre despite the talents of director/co-writer Simon Baker.

Based on Tim Winton’s best-selling novel of the same name, we’re taken to a remote area of the Western Australia coast.  This is where we’re introduced to teenagers Pikelet (Samson Coulter) and Ivan (Ben Spence), known better as Loonie.  Growing up along the coast, the two of them want something more out of their lives.  Nobody could blame them since this area of the continent is so remote.  The two boys encounter a older surfer, Sando (Simon Baker), when they make their way to Sawyer Point.  Sando more or less serves as a mentor to the two teens.  He pushes them to become a better surfer with the goal to surf Old Smokey.

Surfing with Sando a change of scenery from their home life.  Pikelet’s life is better.  Raised by Mr. and Mrs. Pike (Richard Roxburgh and Rachael Blake), Pikelet grew up with parents he could depend on.  Loonie, on the other hand, is the type that wants to escape the violent hands of his father, Karl Loon (Jacek Koman).  As such, Loonie relishes every chance the two of them have together outside of the home.  While Loonie grows to love surfing and the time they spend with Sando, Pikelet starts to realize that it’s just not the life that he wants for himself.

While Sando takes a back seat during the second hour, his wife, Eva (Elizabeth Debicki), comes to the forefront.  A champion skier from Utah, a knee injury forced Eva into retirement.  One thing leads to another and the next thing you know, Eva has an affair with Pikelet.  This is just all levels of wrong!

The film is at its best when the story is focused on surfing.  Away from the water, the film just isn’t quite as compelling.  That said, there are some majestic sights to behold, thanks to cinematographers Marden Dean and Rick Rifici.  Rifici’s water photographer is nothing short of amazing to say the least.  Between costume designer Terri Lamera and production designer Steven Jones-Evans both do a solid job at recreating the 1970s on screen.

While the film is just okay, newcomers Samson Coulter and Ben Spence will certainly be talents to watch over the years to come.  The two are able to hold their own against veteran actor Simon Baker.  Following a seven-season run on The Mentalist, Baker stepped behind the camera to direct his first feature film.  There’s no way that he could have directed a film during a brief hiatus so the former Emmy nominee was wise to postpone the film until after the series was finished.

Despite some breakout performances from the younger talent, Breath is an okay film but it’s nothing that anybody needs to rush and see in theaters any time soon.

DIRECTOR:  Simon Baker
SCREENWRITERS:  Gerard Lee and Simon Baker and Tim Winton
CAST:  Simon Baker, Samson Coulter, Ben Spence, Elizabeth Debicki, and Richard Roxburgh

Following the world premiere at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival in the Contemporary World Cinema program, Filmrise opened Breath in select theaters on June 1, 2018 with a theatrical expansion to follow.

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.

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