Mélanie Laurent’s “Breathe” charts the jealousy, secrets, obsession and la douleur exquise involving two teenage friends. Opening September 11 in New York and September 18 in Los Angeles, the drama stars Joséphine Japy as Charlie, a bored 17-year-old who meets hip new transfer student Sarah (Lou De Laâge), a wild child who brings excitement into Charlie’s dull life. But shared secrets, romantic longings and holiday getaways take their relationship to a dangerous and deeper level.
Laurent has been acclaimed for her performances in “Inglourious Basterds,” “Beginners,” “Enemy” and will soon be seen in Angelina Jolie’s “By the Sea” opposite Jolie and Brad Pitt. She is also working on a documentary on the environment titled “Demain.” “Breathe,” her second feature after 2011’s “The Adopted,” played Critics’ Week at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival and was nominated for the Queer Palm. Check out the exclusive poster above, and trailer below.
Reviews out of Cannes were strong:
Laurent co-starred in her quirky and overly glossy first feature, “The Adopted,” but for her sophomore effort as a budding cineaste, she has chosen not to appear onscreen. Indeed, it would be difficult to image which role she could play in this loose adaptation of Anne-Sophie Brasme’s eponymous French literary sensation, written when the author was only 17 herself. Though the story has undergone quite a few changes, what’s intact is the novel’s grittiness and emotional honesty, which more than compensates for the occasional coming-of-age cliche.
An obsessive friendship between two teenage girls unfolds with equal amounts of tenderness and terror in “Breathe,” a modest but acutely observed and affecting adolescent portrait that suggests a chaste “Blue Is a Warmest Color” by way of “Single White Female.” In her second outing as director (following 2011’s “The Adopted”), actress Melanie Laurent brings a sure, sensitive hand to tonally tricky material and draws superb work from relative newcomers Josephine Japy (“Cloclo”) and Lou De Laage (“Jappeloup”).
There is a significant danger in premiering a female-led French-language adolescence tale with a lesbian slant on the Croisette the year after “Blue is the Warmest Color” won the Palme(s) in such memorable style. But it’s a danger that Melanie Laurent’s “Respire,” one of our pleasantest Cannes surprises so far, largely avoids, by establishing itself as a very different animal from the outset, if no less heartfelt and sincerely delivered, concerning itself less with evoking the joys and miseries of first love than with outlining the potentially disastrous effects of a love gone sour, curdled into a helpless kind of obsessiveness.