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DVD Review

DVD cover

The Air I Breathe


Starring: Sarah Michelle Gellar, Kevin Bacon, Brendan Fraser, Forest Whitaker and Andy Garcia
Pathé Distribution
RRP: £15.99
Certificate: 15
Available 15 September 2008

The lives of four previously unconnected individuals are weaved together by the ruling of a ruthless crime boss known as Fingers. As the story unfolds, a series of hidden connections are slowly revealed that show how these four very different personalities are just a cog in a much bigger wheel...

The Air I Breathe centres on the ancient Chinese proverb of Happiness, Pleasure, Sorrow and Love. The film centres around four very different individuals who all have one man in common - they've all crossed the path of ruthless crime lord Fingers.

The four sections of the movie are split up as follows: Happiness - When a timid businessman overhears a sure bet at a horse race he risks it all with dire consequences; Pleasure - A fragile popstar discovers her management contract is in jeopardy when her manager trades her against his outstanding debts; Sorrow - A gang member, who has the ability to see into the future, finds himself embroiled in a gangster lifestyle. Love - A heartbroken doctor fights for the life of his love when she is poisoned by a snakebite.

Possibly the biggest problem with the movie is that the characters are really badly constructed - they all sport the sort of cliched traits that someone making their first stab at writing wouldn't even think was cool. Each character is given an emotion to play based on the Chinese proverbs, but not all the characters actually seem to convey that emotion.

Forest Whitaker (Happiness) plays a boring guy who loves butterflies (I kid you not), who bets on a horse called butterfly and at the end of his segment his coat makes him look like a butterfly (oh, dear!).

Brendan Fraser (Pleasure) plays a guy who can see the future (don't ask) but can't change it... er... but can, sort of... But wait! He has a tragic past and is still haunted by the childhood friend he accidentally killed when he tried to save his life. But when a pop princess enters his life he realises he can't see her future and he starts to lose his power for some reason that's never explained.

Sarah Michelle Gellar (Sorrow) plays a brainless pop princess who is haunted by the memory of her dad's death - he was dancing in the road when he was hit by a car (the movie's only laugh out loud moment. Not because it's funny, but because it's so obvious that it's about to happen, and so pathetically conceived as an idea). Gellar's character also, rather strangely, refuses to work for her new manager (Fingers) which is a little strange as it doesn't really matter who her manager is, she's still got a career ahead of her.

Kevin Bacon (Love) is still in love with an old sweetheart who has a very rare blood type. This woman works in a job with poisonous snakes and, for some odd reason, she's never thought to have some blood put aside in case she's bitten (guess what happens to her).

Andy Garcia is the crazy gangster who interacts with all of the characters and just about pulls this movie into some sort of narrative.

So what are the emotions all about? They make no sense at all. Pleasure and Happiness are the emotions that the first two characters manage to finally achieve at the end of their stories, while Sorrow and Love are the emotions that the other two characters already possess, so why bother with the emotions in the first place?

But worry not, for the movie has a very important message at its core. The message seems to be... er... everyone's life effects everyone else's... except that here it doesn't really. How does Andy Garcia have any effect on Kevin Bacon's character? And what about Kevin Bacon and Forest Whitaker there's no interaction there at all.

No wait... maybe the point of the film is... that every one must make a sacrifice in order to receive something good in return... No, that's not it... Oh wait! I've got it. Everyone is connected to a gangster... hmm... No we've already established that Garcia has no effect on Bacon's character. Maybe there is no message at all and just a collection of random events that don't really go anywhere.

Extras are practically none existent - with only the original theatrical trailer and a photo gallery. For a release like this, the lack of any extras is unforgivable. At the very least a director's commentary would have been useful so we could work out what on earth they were trying to achieve.

While the movie looks great and the actors all give solid performances (Gellar's a little wooden here and there, but otherwise pretty impressive) I couldn't help asking myself who on earth would find this movie appealing... hmm... I'm still not sure. Gangsters maybe?


Pete Boomer

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