Wednesday, July 9, 2008


Brendan Fraser, Kevin Bacon, Forest Whitaker, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Emile Hirsch, Andy Garcia, Julie Delpy

"Sometimes the things we can't change ... end up changing us"

A drama based on an ancient Chinese proverb that breaks life down into four emotional cornerstones: happiness, pleasure, sorrow and love. Therefore you have characters named happiness, pleasure, sorrow and love. Well alright those are not their real names but that is what they are called in the movie. In fact, it is one of those movies where their names doesn't matter much. It is the message that they are trying to convey which pretty much gives the film some gritty and edgy feel to it. I didn't like the part where they portrayed "Happiness" and "Love". It came across as being too existential and unrealistic, respectively. On the other hand, I totally loved the "Pleasure" and "Sorrow" part. I also like how they intertwined with each other flawlessly.

I admit there are several quite violent scenes which can be disturbing but nonetheless it was essential for the overall gloomy effect of the film. It was necessary to establish the background of the characters' troubled existence. A sorrowful totally dejected life which just kept on getting more miserable by the minute. It was interesting how each part and each character managed to blend together like pieces of a puzzle fitting in the right place. It was a well executed and neatly edited plot that makes this film unique and dare I say 'different'.

I like the narration bit. In fact I've always loved films with narration. It adds more structure to a film. The fact that most of the movie is fueled by a narration contributed to its poignant nature. A method so effective I still shudder when I think of the quotes that were narrated.
Happiness: I always wondered, when a butterfly leaves the safety of its cocoon, does it realize how beautiful it has become? Or does it still just see itself as a caterpillar?

The cast all portrayed very mature and convincing roles. Special mention goes to Ms Buffy the Vampire Slayer, herself, Sarah Michelle Gellar. She gave a subtle yet very significant performance. Her role as a down on her luck rising pop star was very well acted. I've never been a fan of "Buffy" but with this film, I take my hats off to her. Brendan Fraser is best known for this goofy guy who goes off on his "Mummy" adventures. Or he would portray really silly roles like "George in the Jungle". But in "The Air I breathe" he is the complete opposite. All beefed up as a serious man of few words enforcer of a gangster. The silent menacing type but with a heart of gold. It was a masterful performance. He held his own ground acting opposite one of the most known method actors in the movie industry - the incomparable Andy Garcia. Garcia naturally projects well on screen and registers powerfully as the gangster, "Fingers". I don't think there is a role that Andy Garcia can't portray except maybe for a musical but who knows he might surprise us, some day.

So give and take a few disjointed side plots and unbelievable scenarios, the film was still effective in making us ponder about life, about love and everything else in between. The good ensemble cast was an added bonus.

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