Sunday, September 16, 2012

BREATHING (AUSTRIA)


Cine Europa 2012
Cinema 2, Shang Cineplex





 This Austrian film explores the life of a juvenile delinquent named Roman Kogler. He is an inmate at a juvenile detention facility where offenders are allowed to work outside as a form of community service.  His case worker believes he has a better chance of getting a parole if he was gainfully employed. The quiet, unassuming 19-year-old chooses to work as an assistant at a Viennese mortuary. 

The film shows how he adapts to his strange job. At first he is unable to handle the corpses but eventually he gets the hang of it.  He also was able to track down his biological mother who gave him up for adoption. Their first meeting is fraught with an understated awkwardness. A prevailing sense of trying to know her as a person and at the same time trying to understand why she gave him away.

"Breathing" is an intimate peek into Roman Kogler's life. At first glance, it is a seemingly simple existence yet slowly we are shown the different layers of his personality.  Thomas Schubert as Roman is quite effective at fleshing him out.   His rare displays of emotions and his quiet demeanor masks how deeply conflicted he is about being abandoned as a child.  Soon enough, his quirky job serves as his refuge.

Although it doesn't delve into the nitty gritty details of preparing a corpse for burial like the Japanese film "Departures", this Austrian film is an affecting, sentimental tale about a young's man redemption and his second chance to lead a meaningful life and once again be part of a society that would welcome him back into its folds.

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