Breathe In

Breathe In Information

Breathe In is a 2013 American drama film directed by Drake Doremus and starring Guy Pearce, Felicity Jones, and Amy Ryan. Written by Drake Doremus and Ben York Jones, the film is about a foreign exchange student who arrives in a small upstate New York town and challenges the dynamics of her host family's relationships, altering their lives forever. The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival on January 19, 2013"?the director's third film to play at the festival.


Former classical cellist Keith Reynolds (Guy Pearce) works as a music teacher at a high school outside New York City. Other than the occasional gig as a substitute cellist for an esteemed Manhattan symphony"?a welcome reprieve from his predictable life as a family man"?Keith grows increasingly nostalgic about his bohemian youth. As the fall semester approaches, Keith and his wife Megan (Amy Ryan), along with their high school senior daughter Lauren (Mackenzie Davis), decide to take in a foreign exchange student from England named Sophie (Felicity Jones). In contrast to Lauren's sporty, outgoing, and sociable personality, Sophie is more subdued and introspective.

At first reluctant to demonstrate her skill, Sophie eventually reveals her incredible talent as a pianist during an introductory session in Keith's piano class. Rendered speechless by her skill, Keith quickly bonds with the young woman over their shared passion for classical music. His wife Megan, who refers to Keith's occasional work in a Manhattan symphony as "a hobby", is annoyed by their growing friendship. The wistful musician finds the impulsive nature that he has so successfully repressed once again bubbling to the surface, where nothing is nearly as placid as it appears.


  • Guy Pearce as Keith
  • Felicity Jones as Sophie
  • Amy Ryan as Megan Reynolds
  • Kyle MacLachlan as Peter Sebeck
  • Ben Shenkman as Sheldon
  • Alexandra Wentworth as Wendy Sebeck
  • Hugo Becker as Clément
  • Brendan Dooling as Ryan
  • Mackenzie Davis as Lauren Reynolds
  • Lucy Davenport as Sophie's mom
  • Jenny Anne Hochberg as Swim Team Member
  • Elise Eberle as Angela
  • Nicole Patrick as Theresa
  • Brock Harris as Paul
  • Stephen Sapienza as Swim Team Member



Breath In is the third film from director Drake Doremus to play at the Sundance Film Festival. Doremus won the festival's dramatic grand jury prize in 2011 with Like Crazy, his first film with leading lady Felicity Jones, who took the special jury prize for acting that year. Discussing his casting of Jones in his early film Like Crazy, Doremus remembers, "She sent me a tape she made in her flat. She did the ending of the movie, actually in her shower. And it was like, 'OK, wow.' I cast her without even meeting her." After they completed Like Crazy, they began talking about working together again. "I felt like the journey wasn't complete yet, and that we had some more exploring to do."


Using the same technique as on Like Crazy, Doremus and co-screenwriter Ben York Jones prepared a detailed outline for each scene without dialogue, and then rehearsed with the cast for several weeks while they improvised the words. Doremus explains:

Doremus's films are known for their "intimate" style. His use of hand-held cameras, often right in the actors' faces, and his ability to draw out performances from his actors that are natural and unaffected, creates the illusion that we're "invading private moments" in the lives of the characters.

Breathe In was filmed on location in upstate New York and Terminal 4 in JFK International Airport in Queens, New York.


Critical response

In his review for, Adam Chitwood gave the film an A" rating, noting that it is "rare to find a film of this kind that is genuinely moving without feeling overly manipulative or sappy". Chitwood continued:

Chitwood thought the entire cast was "fantastic", singling out Pearce who "turns in one of the best performances of his career". Chitwood concludes, "With impeccable performances, inspired direction, beautiful cinematography, and a devastating story, Breathe In marks one of the best family dramas in recent years and a promisingly mature leap forward for director Drake Doremus."

In his review for CinemaBeach, Bryan Thompson called the film "an adult masterpiece that carries Doremus's thoughtful and methodic style into something both beautiful and tragic". Thompson also praised the "subtle but beautiful performances by the film's cast", singling out Guy Pearce who is "particularly stellar" at creating the "complex and sympathetic" character of Keith.

While pointing out that the film is as "predictable as melodrama comes", Thompson also believes the film "shines ... in the smaller moments". Thompson notes, "As Keith and Sophie explore their taboo relationship, the film can easily fall into the trap of cliché, but it skirts the edges thanks to a realism and honesty framed through fully formed characters and sequences that are quiet but speak volumes, building on relationships and emotion rather than story." Thompson concludes that despite the film's weaknesses"?particularly the last act crisis that "feels forced""?the finer moments of Breathe In make up for the flaws, and that Doremus and company are "fast becoming filmmaking virtuosos".

In his first look review for The Guardian, Jeremy Kay gave the film four out of five stars, calling it a "finely calibrated piece of work from one of the more talented US film-makers to emerge in recent years". Kay notes that while the story is predictable and nothing new, Doremus "makes it all utterly captivating" and "mines just the right amount of drama and spontaneous comedy from each moment and the foreshadowing is perfectly weighted". Kay also praises the acting performances:

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