Jesse Baget’s 2012 twisted dark comedy Breathless isn’t nearly as shocking as you’d think. What is shocking is the strong performances by leading ladies Gina Gershon and Kelli Giddish. Aside from their constant back and forth the film has troubles finding its footing and becoming memorable. Breathless is bloody, sometimes funny, but mostly just something that overstays its welcome.
Lorna (Gina Gershon) is a fed up wife that just doesn’t buy into the bullshit that her husband Dale (Val Kilmer) feeds her. He’s up to no good and he’s stolen a great deal of money, with plans to cut and bail without so much as a phone call. This upsets Lorna, so she calls over her best friend Tiny (Kelli Giddish) and they plot up a way to get rid of Dale and take off with his money.
Everything sounds fine and dandy for the pair, but Sheriff Cooley (Ray Liotta) starts snooping around and the girls must now stay locked up inside the small Texas home before Cooley gets his warrant and busts down the door.
Director Jesse Baget approaches Breathless with a traditional filming mindset of telling a quirky story that is focused on its characters. Too often you find these straight-to-home video/limited release films trying to push the boundaries to become recognized as something new to the audiences, but they mostly fail due to budget constraints and lack of experience. Baget shows his experience as a filmmaker by choosing to film Breathless entirely in one location.
This one location scenario allows for focused character work, which is by far the best thing about the film. Leading stars Gina Gershon and Kelli Giddish have a two halves kind of friendship, with one of them starting up a thought and the other finishing it. It’s almost like they can’t assess the situation properly without the other, and the two nail that authenticity. Gershon is the backbone of the relationship, using most of the common sense and Giddish is the risk-taker that produces results, despite the consequences. Val Kilmer and Ray Liotta are in the film in what can be described as glorified cameos, but the two add their own weird brand of Southern flavor.
Breathless is successful whenever it focuses on its characters and the situation that they’ve gotten into, but whenever things try to become risky or bold the film sizzles under the heat. There’s never anything shocking or even funny to deem this a dark comedy, because most of the film skids by on being laughable because of the premise and not the actual lines of dialogue read.
Watching any of the more violent scenes won’t have you covering your eyes in disgust. You’ll instead shrug it off because there’s nothing that Breathless does that sets it out from other films. The story follows a formula that has been used over and over and that is what kills it.
Breathless might surprise viewers because of the quality performances provides by Gershon and Giddish, but their commitment to the project almost feels wasted, because of the path Baget follows for the story, which is an all too familiar road of expected twists and questionable logic.
Anchor Bay brings Breathless to Blu-Ray with a sun-soaked 1080p video transfer that absorbs skin texture and facial detail, but sometimes drops the ball when it comes to the soft tone and feel of the setting. The film mostly takes place indoors and I noticed lots of shift in focus. The image will be spectacular one minute and bland the next. Nothing is consistent or strong enough to give this transfer high marks.
The 5.1 Dolby TrueHD lossless audio track remains content on the front channels, with the back channels only livening up whenever there’s gunfire or blender activity. You can’t really expect much for a film that takes place inside and in one room for the bulk of the running time. Still, dialogue is clear and understandable.
Breathless only comes with 1 real bonus feature and a copy of the film on DVD. Here’s a detailed list:
- DVD Copy
- Making of Breathless (HD): A 12 minute look at the production, casting, writing and locations for the film. This quick making of feature documents how director Jesse Baget was able to make this film so quickly, without any real hiccups along the way. It’s short, but it shows us how the independent scene works these days.
Breathless isn’t the strongest film of the genre, but it’s much better than most would think after looking at the generic cover art. Gina Gershon and Kelli Giddish keep the film from crashing, even when Jesse Baget’s script doesn’t do them any favors. The Blu-Ray is another middle-of-the-road release from Anchor Bay, which accompanies the actual quality of the film just fine.
Curious film watchers won’t want to buy this one, because the lack of features and the plot’s lack of twists, turns and actual comedy. Breathless is a film that shows progression as a filmmaker for director Jesse Baget, but he’s clearly got a few more films left to sort out some of his storytelling kinks.
This review is based on a copy of the Blu-Ray that we received for reviewing purposes.
Breathless is a dark and twisted character comedy that works because of the performances by the cast members, but doesn't work because of the story and just how simple it is. Some stuff is a bit drawn out, while other bits work real well. It could have been much better, but it also could have been much worse. Director Jesse Baget mostly sculpts a forgettable film.