TL;DR – A good concept for a disaster film, but it does not quite hit where it needed to hit.
Score – 3 out of 5 stars
Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene
Given the state of Australia, where I live at the moment, it has been difficult to turn on the television and not see another disaster unfold. With that in mind, it was interesting timing that saw a film about not being able to breathe outside just as it is happening in real life. Today we dive into a film that does just that, though not in the streets of Australia, but in Paris, France.
So to set the scene, in the not too distant future Mathieu (Romain Duris) lives across the road from his ex-wife Anna (Olga Kurylenko) and their daughter Sarah (Fantine Harduin). While they are no longer together, they work to help raise their daughter who has Stimberger’s Syndrome and is confined to a protective bubble to isolate her and keep her safe. One day Paris is shaken by an earthquake and as Mathieu goes out to investigate he discovers a deadly mist exploding from underground killing all those who breathe it in. Running he is able to get Anna to safety upstairs, but they have to leave Sarah behind in her bubble as the smoke comes pouring in.
There was quite a lot here that I really liked, beginning with the fog/mist/smoke/toxic death cloud thingy. In some cases, it looks like they created it practically and in others digitally, but in both cases, it is a real menacing presence in the film. I think this is because it is something that we can actually conceptualise and that makes it all the much worse. There is also that very real terror of being so close to the person that you love but not being able to help them because of a barrier. There are some really interesting scenes as they explore the city and there are a lot of references here in the visual landscape, like Titanic that worked.
While there is a lot going on that is quite good, it is held back by some of its decisions. Because of the nature of the film, the cast is quite small, but then it means that you have nowhere to hide when it comes to your characters and there just isn’t a lot to go on here that is compelling. To add to that, as the film goes on you fall into the trap of going “wait, why didn’t they do that simple thing that someone would do in this situation”. You can usually give people a lot of benefit of the doubt in disaster films, but there is a line that stretches too far. Finally, I think they reveal their narrative hand a little too early, which dampens some of the impacts of the later events.
In the end, do we recommend Just a Breath Away? Maybe. If you are a fan of destruction films, then I think there is a lot here that might be really interesting for you. For everyone else, it is not a bad film per se, but I just don’t know if it is going to be engaging enough. There is a similar film on Netflix called IO if you really liked the ‘air is trying to kill us angle’ But I think Just a Breath Away does it a bit better.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
Have you watched Just a Breath Away?, let us know what you thought in the comments below, feel free to share this review on any of the social medias and you can follow us Here. Check out all our past reviews and articles Here, and have a happy day.
Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of Just a Breath Away
Directed by – Daniel Roby
Written by – Guillaume Lemans
Music by – Michel Corriveau
Cinematography by – Pierre-Yves Bastard
Edited by – Stan Collet & Yvann Thibaudeau
Production/Distribution Companies – Quad Productions, Section9, Esprits Frappeurs & Mars Distribution
Starring – Romain Duris, Olga Kurylenko, Fantine Harduin, Michel Robin, Anna Gaylor, Réphaël Ghrenassia, Erja Malatier, Alexis Manenti, Maurice Antoni & Robin Barde
Rating – Australia: M;