Breathe In

Critics Consensus

Breathe In's plot never quite sparks the way it should, but it remains thoroughly watchable thanks to strong performances from Felicity Jones and Guy Pearce.



Total Count: 80


Audience Score

User Ratings: 3,699
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Movie Info

When a foreign exchange student arrives in a small upstate New York town, she challenges the dynamics of her host family's relationships and alters their lives forever. (C) Cohen

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Guy Pearce
as Keith Reynolds
Amy Ryan
as Megan Reynolds
Mackenzie Davis
as Lauren Reynolds
Alexandra Wentworth
as Wendy Sebeck
Kyle MacLachlan
as Peter Sebeck (uncredited)
Ben Shenkman
as Sheldon
Nathaniel Peart
as Blake Sebeck
Hugo Becker
as Clement
Shannon Garland
as Lainey Sebeck
Annie Q.
as Chloe
Scott Singer
as Photographer
Vivienne Sendaydiego
as Photographer's Assistant
Zachary Lindberg
as Sophomore Piano Student
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Critic Reviews for Breathe In

All Critics (80) | Top Critics (27) | Fresh (45) | Rotten (35)

  • There's something flimsy and unformed at these characters' cores, something that no amount of jumpy close-ups, skittering sideways glances, and rainy music can make up for.

    Apr 18, 2014 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…
  • Buoyed by some nicely nuanced performances (especially by Pearce and Amy Ryan as his dream-dashing wife), Breathe In never quite rises above its predictable potboiler premise.

    Apr 4, 2014 | Rating: B | Full Review…
  • Every moment between stars Guy Pearce and Felicity Jones feels so much like an explosion about to go off that viewers may hesitate to so much as take a breath at the wrong time for fear of disturbing the film's delicate equilibrium.

    Apr 3, 2014 | Full Review…
  • A breathy tale of a not-quite love affair, Drake Doremus' "Breathe In" is yet another skillfully acted indie drama that's never quite good enough to be memorable.

    Apr 3, 2014 | Rating: 2/4
  • The superb acting can't turn narrative lead into gold with this story about the attraction of a foreign-exchange student pianist to her married host and teacher.

    Apr 3, 2014 | Rating: B- | Full Review…
  • The film needs more help than it gets from the script, which turns on facile coincidence and dwindles in originality as it moves toward its climax.

    Apr 3, 2014

Audience Reviews for Breathe In

  • Mar 20, 2015
    A fairly mediocre melodrama, Breathe In is formulaic and clichéd. The story follows a high school music teacher and his family as they take in an exchange student from the U.K., but things get complicated when he starts to feel a connection with her. Guy Pearce and Felicity Jones give good performances, but they don't really have much to work with. And, the plot is incredibly trite and predictable; having no originality to it. However, the directing adds a bit of subtext and atmosphere. Yet overall, Breathe In is a stereotypical forbid love affair type film that follows the usual tropes.
    Dann M Super Reviewer
  • Feb 18, 2014
    "Breathe, breathe in the air; don't be afraid to care!" Oh, please, people, you know that Pink Floyd was going to be worked in there somewhere, because it's not like I was going to reference Lucie Silvas' "Breathe In", because that is one corny pop number, not so much because no one knows the corny pop number in question. If you know about this film, then you probably know about that song, because this film is so low in profile that it features a cameo by Kyle MacLachlan, whose closest thing to a high-profile art project in recent years has been a recurring appearance on "Portlandia". Well, "How I Met Your Mother" is just so blasted good of a show to be network-based that we may as well consider it an artistic triumph, which would be cool with me, because I get a lot more fun out of and dramatic effectiveness from it than I do art films like this. No, this film is adequately engaging, I suppose, but even Drake Doremus' titling is kind of limp, because before this film, "Breathe In", he did "Like Crazy", and before that, well, I'm not going to say what he did, but rest assured that the title was kind of lazy. You have to at least give the guy credit for trying to get a little more sophisticated with his subject matter, because "Like Crazy" was pitched as the trite youth romantic melodrama that it turned to... not entirely be, whereas with this film, you've got classical musicians, affairs with much younger women, and melodramatic family dysfunctions. Jeez, no wonder the UK is getting a piece of this American project before everyone else, because this is kind of a stuffy premise, which does admittedly make for a decent film, if you can, well, "breathe" through the problems. I joke about how, with this effort, filmmaker Drake Doremus really is going all-out in trying to up his artistic integrity and tastes, but there are some artistic liberties taken here, and not all of them fit, as the film will follow a traditionally focused storytelling path, then suddenly switch to moments of near-abstract lyricism that aggravate because of their inorganic incorporation, alone, save their marking highlights in the film's consistency in dragging. Even when its structuring doesn't devolve into deliberate meditativeness upon more-or-less nothing, this film's script is essentially aimless in its being so dragged out by unfocused and repetitious set pieces which stiffen pacing, ultimately halted by lapses in atmospheric momentum, of which there are many. As if it's not enough that Doremus, partnered with Ben York Jones, keeps things nice and limp in his script, his direction is often too quiet for its own good, placing a sober focus on pacing that, during those many lapses in material, dull things down. Bite is there when Doremus gets the meditative storytelling right, but when he doesn't, it's impossible to ignore the aforementioned draggy spells in material, as well as how, for that matter, there isn't all that much material to intrigue with meat through all of the dry storytelling, as this plot of limited momentum goes driven by characters of limited intrigue, limiting potential whose interpretation doesn't even give you the courtesy of consistently unique storytelling. More than it's not all that meaty, this film's narrative isn't all that refreshing, hitting trope upon trope as it drags along its stylistically uneven, draggy and almost inconsequential path, until it loses its grip on suspense while the grip of predictability tightens around it, further retarding the momentum of what is, in a lot of other ways, a limp drama. I wish there was more meat to this drama, I really do, because there are some very effective occasions, but that's all they are: occasions, for intrigue, no matter how present, goes limited on paper by a story concept that is limited in meat, and by storytelling that is even more limited in consistent bite. Nevertheless, where this film could have admittedly easily collapsed into mediocrity under the weight of its artistic missteps and overambitions, it gets by on its highlights in substance and consistency in style. The indie cheapness to the camera, lighting and other photography factors hold back a fine taste in visual style, but John Guleserian's cinematography is never less than handsome, with a sometimes hauntingly icy bleakness to coloration that adds to visual lyricism when artistic storytelling is utilized, yet doesn't do so as beautifully or as effectively as the music. When classical masterpieces are played with, they're not too obvious and are beautifully performed, while the original score by Dustin O'Halloran delivers its own modern classical subtlety and grace whose delicacy is not only aesthetically moving, but complimentary to the subtle tonal layers of this drama. Artistic value, when really played upon in this stylistically uneven storytelling, is often blanding, maybe even sentimental in its being carried away, yet the visual and musical styles behind artistry are consistently beautiful by their own right, with times in which Drake Doremus, as director, uses them with genuine tastefulness in order to, if you will, "breathe" life into this narrative. Even in concept, life is lacking within this narrative, although there is still a good amount of potential in this study on how a family handles a mysterious stranger's emotional and sexual influence on flawed people of integrity, and no matter how much the film formulaically and unevenly meanders along a still-reasonably promising path, it's hard to deny some degree of intrigue. Doremus' and Ben York Jones' script doesn't make denial that much easier, being overblown and conventional, but still tight enough in its taking time to meditate upon subtle characterization to draw you into the depths of this character-driven drama, which is further carried by the aforementioned highlights in Doremus' direction, as well as by solid character portrayals. Most everyone plays his or her part fairly well, and that particularly goes for the leads, with Felicity Jones capturing the ambiguity and, to a certain degree, seductiveness of a quiet, yet intriguing young lady with questionable feelings, while Guy Pearce proves to be just, if not more effective in an assured portrayal of a good man whose fear of losing youth drives him to contemplate, if not act on deeds that aren't particularly respectable. Outside of the strong visual style and outstanding musical style, the film's strengths are subtle, whereas the flaws are considerable, but subtle highlights ultimately go a fair distance in crafting an adequate amount of intrigue to a still rather underwhelming drama. When the breathe is finally released, the film collapses as underwhelming, maybe even forgettable under the weight of an inconsistently stylized, yet still consistently draggy, blandly dry, and formulaic telling of a narrative of limited meat, yet lovely visual style, an outstanding soundtrack, and a fair degree of juiciness to storytelling and acting - especially by Felicity Jones and Guy Pearce - make Drake Doremus' "Breathe In" a decent and sometimes compelling meditative drama, through all the limpness. 2.5/5 - Fair
    Cameron J Super Reviewer
  • Jan 31, 2014
    Complex emotions and deep meanings are Doremus' forte, both of which are highly prevalent in his latest film, "Breathe In", an emotionally challenging study of a family which faces its breaking point after welcoming a beautiful high school foreign exchange student into their home. There are no clear-cut answers as the complexity of human nature is put to the test. By the end of the film, none of the characters are particularly happy, but the emotions felt by the characters as well as the audience are so raw and intense that Doremus is basically capturing lightning in bottle. Nothing captivates me more than an intelligent director willing to make deeper connections.When you sit back and realize what each element means; Megan's jars, Lauren's swing set, the innocent game of Jenga, the true genius of Doremus shines through. Doremus is a director of subtly and profound emotion and to be able to deliver in such a passionate way speaks volumes about the sensitivity and vision of the man pulling the strings. With "Breathe In" proving to be every bit as solid as "Like Crazy", young director Drake Doremus is two for two.
    Christopher H Super Reviewer
  • Oct 30, 2013
    Breathe In isn't a particularly bad film, but sadly isn't a particularly exciting one either. On the one hand, this succeeds - probably more than it should - thanks to restrained, evocative direction from Doremus and an interesting, muted performance from Pearce. On the other hand, Doremus struggles to offer up anything we haven't seen before in the old mid-life crisis chestnut; the beats are all too familiar for this type of film. For a film with very few surprises, one big one is Jones; she skillfully plays down Sophie, creating a character you wouldn't expect from a film like this. While most will be distracted by the meandering, overly familiar plot, which keeps this from being essential viewing, Breathe In is well made and confirms Doremus as a director to watch.
    Jason S Super Reviewer

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