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Breath Review - Coming of Age Surfing Drama Has Heart

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Breath, from Film Rise, presents a heartfelt coming of age drama which has two best pals suddenly and irreversibly captured by the wild waves off the Australian coastline and a onetime champion who agrees to mentor them.

Directed and co-written by Simon Baker, Breath stars Baker, Samson Coulter, Ben Spence, Elizabeth Debicki, Richard Roxburgh, Rachel Blake, Jack Koman and Megan Smart. Based on the novel by Tim Winton and adapted by the screen by Baker and Gerald Lee.

Breath begins in the summer of 1975 with two barely teenage boys, Pikelet, played by Samson Coulter, and Loonie, played by Ben Spence, riding Schwinn bicycles paling around a small town on the western Australia coast.


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Riding to the ocean they see, apparently for the first time, a group of surfers catching the waves. It was the height of the hippie movement and when the surfers made it to the edge of the ocean bluffs where the teens were watching, they were dismissed by Loonie as “hippies” and nothing more. 

But what they saw them do, riding the waves, seem to stick and they decided this was the summer they would learn to surf. Buying boards was the first step to mastering their hidden inner surfing king, so as teen do, they went door to door mowing lawns and chopping wood. Soon they had enough to buy their first board so they headed out to the known “hippie den” where the surfers or as least one was known to sell boards.

This is where we meet Sando, played by Simon Baker, a former surfing champion, he now sells boards to the locals, lives with his girlfriend, Eva, played by Elizabeth Dibicki, a former ski champion from Utah who busted her knee now she plays house with Sando.

While they seem to be committed he is a free spirit who who rides the pipeline and the wilder waves around the region and when the season calls he's gone. So our two friends, now with boards are heading to the ocean to chance it.

Soon our former surfing champion catches the boys at the beach riding the waves, and decides to take them out for a day of real surfing. No more baby waves from paddling out from the shore, the three head out in a motorboat past the breakers to where the pipeline curls around you and the board glides across the water.

For Loonie the rush was the high he needed, he was all in, no holding back, when it came to the waves he met Sando’s every challenge. Pikelet, who came from a different background, held back and didn’t need to conquer every wave to bolster his self-esteem.


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The film has shocking twists in excepted plot lines. It is the directorial debut from Simon Baker and besides having genuine heart, the film is exceptionally well done. The story and back story splits with each of our teens in separate sub back stories. One is seen and the other only told in reflection.

Pikelet, who throughout is portrayed has the teen with a little more common sense, and not easily drawn into situations that present a life or death risk, and not berated into following as we see as the trio ride out to catch some monster waves that of course carry local folklore.

The surfing sequences build from minor to major conquests with added obstacles from beginners curve to a great white shark. After the shark story, one wondered if the climactic scene would have our reckless Loonie or Sando injured.

For those two the bigger the wave the better. Even with Eva staying behind, the call of the sea was to great. Pikelet also stayed behind which created the secondary sub story. 

The film begins in voice over and includes moments of reflection, the emotion of those first days is spoken and fills in moments throughout with a final epilogue.

Breath held my attention, was shocking, captivating, and alluring. Simon Baker has delivered a strong first film. Baker who also stars in the film alongside Samson Coulter and Ben Spence all delivered exceptional performances.

Breath is playing exclusive engagements in New York and Los Angeles. See this film.

 

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