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BREATHE (RESPIRE) (director/writer: Melanie Laurent; screenwriters: Julien Lambroschini/based on the Ya novel by Anne-Sophie Brasme; cinematographer: Arnaud Potier; editor: Guerric Catala; music: Marc Chouarian; cast: Josephine Japy (Charlene), Lou De Laage (Sarah), Isabelle Carré (Vanessa), Claire Keim (Laura), Rasha Bukvic (Père Charlie), Carole Franck (Mère Sarah), Roxane Duran (Victoire), Thomas Solivéres (Gastine), Camille Claris (Delphine), Louka Meliava (Lucas), Louise Grinberg (Louise), Fanny Sidney (Isa), Alejandro Albarracín (Esteban); Runtime: 91; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Bruno Levy; Film Movemen; 2014-France-in English, French, Italian, Spanish dialogue, with English subtitles when appropriate)
A modest but keenly observed coming-of-age drama about an average suburban teenager.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A modest but keenly observed coming-of-age drama about an average suburban teenager and how her intense friendship by the third act turns into a chilling tragic conclusion. The director is the French actress Melanie Laurent(“The Adopted”), who co-writes her sophomore venture with Julien Lambroschini. It’s based on the bestselling novel Ya by Anne-Sophie Brasme. She wrote it when she was 16.

Charlie (Josephine Japy) is a lonely 17-year-old high school student in a provincial French town, who welcomes school as a place to escape from her bickering irreconcilable parents (Isabelle Carre and Rasha Bukvic). Things change for Charlie when she befriends the new exciting student Sarah (Lou De Laage), who was sent by her Nigeria dwelling parents to live with an aunt when the situation in Nigeria became politically tense. Mom works for an NGO in Nigeria.

Things sour after the sophisticated and wilder Sarah spends the summer vacation at the sea coast with Charlie’s family. Sarah proves to be a sneaky manipulator, who is only interested in herself and domineering others. When the decent Charlie learns a secret about Sarah after finding inconsistencies in her stories, things begin to turn sinister. Upon their return to school Sarah spreads vicious lies about Charlie and messes with her good reputation, which causes great angst for the nice girl.

Sensitively directed by Laurent, brilliantly acted by both Japy as the ingenue and by De Laage as the femme fatale, and gorgeously filmed by Arnaud Potierand.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”