The Air I Breathe (2008)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Ensemble Film  |   Release Date - Jan 25, 2008 (USA - Limited)  |   Run Time - 97 min.  |   Countries - Mexico , United States   |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Derek Armstrong

Writer-director Jieho Lee missed his window on the multi-character melodrama whose stories are connected by fate. You know, the kind of movie where just showing how these characters unexpectedly interweave is supposed to blow your mind. Fact is, even if Lee hadn't come to the party late, The Air I Breathe would still be a poor specimen of that type of movie. It hits the exact beats of the prototypical "fate drama" -- there's the crime that propels the action (Forest Whitaker's character robs a bank), a medical crisis involving a rare blood type (Julie Delpy's character gets bitten by a deadly snake), a minor celebrity hanging around for good measure (Sarah Michelle Gellar plays a pop diva), and even a hint of the supernatural (Brendan Fraser's character can predict the future, for reasons that are never explained). In between, it's one moment of hysterical histrionics after another, with Emile Hirsch thrown in for a couple scenes of comic relief. After all, to be as cool as Lee wants the film to be, it must also have a sense of humor, right? Well, it still doesn't -- The Air I Breathe is a lugubrious affair. Films like this are often overburdened by the notion that it all has to mean something, that these chance occurrences happen for a reason, and this particular film is no exception. The frayed remnants of Lee's subtlety take a fatal blow during the closing credits, when it's revealed that the generically deep chapter titles -- "Happiness," "Pleasure," "Sorrow" -- are also functioning as the names of his heretofore nameless characters, contributing even more to the film's painful over-stretching. Neither are there any good performances to speak of, though Fraser may earn backhanded compliments for showing us that his rubber face can also do dreary. The Air I Breathe suffocates.