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A drama based on an ancient Chinese proverb that breaks life down into four emotional cornerstones: happiness, pleasure, sorrow and love. A businessman bets his life on a horse race; a gangster sees the future; a pop star falls prey to a crime boss; a doctor must save the love of his life.
Release Year: 2007
Rating: 7.0/10 (23,894 voted)
Critic's Score: 37/100
Stars: Brendan Fraser, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Andy Garcia
Storyline A frustrated and clumsy bank clerk overhears the conversation of three coworkers in the toilet about a fix in a horse race, and bets a large amount. He loses the bet and owes the money to the dangerous and powerful mobster Fingers. A gangster who works for Fingers has the ability of foreseeing pieces of the future; he is assigned to collect money for the boss, with his troublemaker nephew Tony, and is beaten up by a gang. The manager of pop-star Trista loses her contract to Fingers without her agreement and she is threatened by the gangster. A dedicated doctor seeks a blood donor that might have a rare blood type to save the life of his secret and unrequited passion, a beautiful epidemiologist who's married to a friend.
Writers: Jieho Lee, Bob DeRosa
Cast: Kevin Bacon
Sarah Michelle Gellar
Filming Locations: Mexico City, Distrito Federal, Mexico
Box Office Details
Opening Weekend: $19,487
(27 January 2008)
(6 June 2008)
Did You Know?
When Brendan Fraser is looking at pictures of the famous pop star Trysta played by Sarah Michelle Gellar, real magazine photos of Sarah Michelle Gellar were used.
When Fingers wants Pleasure to listen to some music, the remote doesn't belong to this type of B&O stereo. This stereo always uses a beolink 1000 remote.
I always wondered, when a butterfly leaves the safety of its cocoon, does it realize how beautiful it has become? Or does it still just see itself as a caterpillar?
Unique, thoughtful, and stunning -- a winner
The Air I Breathe is stunning in many ways. It should be established
right from the start that this is not a movie which allows you to check
your brain at the door. It demands attention and thought. Director
Jieho Lee and co-writer Bob DeRosa have crafted an intriguing work
which leaves more questions than answers. And, after all, that is what
art should aspire to do.
The film is based on a Chinese proverb which says that life consists of
four emotions: Happiness, Pleasure, Sorrow, and Love. To be whole one
must experience each emotion, and by doing so we are interconnected
with all other human beings. The film itself is structured in the same
fashion, with each of four segments focusing on those ideas. The lead
actors portray those emotions one by one. Forest Whitaker is Happiness,
Brendan Fraser is Pleasure, Sarah Michelle Gellar is Sorrow, and Kevin
Bacon is Love. They anchor the four segments of the film, while the
rest of the magnificent ensemble cast weaves in and out of the
The idea is somewhat fuzzy at first. This is an unconventional story
with a similarly unique style. Unlike most films, the major characters
don't really have major arcs in story line or performance. While some
may find a couple of the actors a bit deadpan, they pretty much are
solid throughout while consistent in their characterizations. Whitaker
and Fraser especially fit that description. Both are quite stoic in
their roles, but that's what the story demands. Sarah Michelle Gellar
may be the exception. She is the one who has to display a wide range of
emotions, more than the others. Her character is quite tortured and
goes through a lot emotionally and physically. Gellar is a very brave
actress who took risks and put her heart and soul into it. She is sure
to surprise many people. Bacon is a delight and is perfectly cast as a
would-be hero. Andy Garcia is a chilling and devilish nemesis
throughout, while Emile Hirsch provides some comic relief in his brief
The script is filled with poetic statements, hearkening back to the
Chinese proverb on which the story is based. Each segment's main
character provides voice-over. And while the language is somewhat
oblique, the dialogue is quite blunt and to the point.
Visually it is breathtaking, with broad sweeping images interspersed
with numerous gritty close-ups of tragedy. The Air I Breathe has the
look of a big budget film, although it is not. Watch for some
fascinating visual effects. Hand-held with close-ups is used for some
of the more chilling parts and creates tension. Hitchcock would be
Surprises occur at every step of the way. One of the most startling
aspects of this film is that there are moments when one may think, "No,
that won't happen." And then it does. It's hard to watch at times and
quite violent. There's sadness and tension. But there is also an
amazingly clever use of humor in the film, and that is perhaps what is
most surprising. But that's what life is. The soundtrack plays a major
role in this movie, as if another character. It has an Asian feel, not
just because of the filmmaker's background but because the film is
based on that Chinese proverb. It was quite haunting.
The Air I Breathe is, at its heart, a character piece which follows a
general theme. Seems simple. On the face of it, it plays out like a
crime drama. But there's more to it, and it takes patience and thought
to get to the point of it. Not everyone will be able to do that. But it
is definitely worth the effort.