Well Acted But Lacking A Compelling Hook
And Breathe Normally is an artistic, stylish and level headed film that fails to really grip as hard as it should. While the opening act of the film plays out with two separate storylines, when these converge and come together, the sharing of ideas and themes is well worked and enthralling. However, in a bid to make the film as artistic as possible, the abundance of long shots kills the pacing, making And Breathe Normally feel like it’s dragging on at times.
The story begins with poverty-stricken Lara who struggles so badly she winds up losing her flat and is forced to live in her car with her son, Eldar. In what seems like a lucky break, Lara gets a job working in customs at the airport and in a bid to impress, spots an inconsistency from one of her colleagues in letting a passenger pass. A woman from Guinea-Bissau, called Adja, is called back into line under suspicions of travelling with a fake passport. After learning that she’s an asylum seeker, she’s taken away to a refugee camp while Lara continues her job all the while living in her car. It’s at this point where a chance encounter brings Adja and Lara together and as the film progresses, the two help each other overcome mental obstacles, ending with an abrupt but somewhat satisfying final scene.
Stylistically at least, And Breathe Normally is a very good looking film. A blue hue hangs over almost every scene and this cold, calculated feel to every shot is reflected by the harsh realities these two women are forced to face. It’s a really nice choice of colour to dominate the film too and it works surprisingly well here. Even the clothes the characters wear at times is the colour blue. This cold feel is emphasized further by a lot of long shots but at times this does feel a little overbearing given the rate they’re used in this 100 minute film.
And Breathe Normally is first and foremost a character driven film and in this department, this Icelandic picture shines. The two women work surprisingly well together on screen and Kristín Þóra Haraldsdóttir does a solid job trying to keep everything together in the face of overwhelming adversity. In a way, her performance is very reminisce of Brie Larson’s in Room although not quite hitting the same emotional peaks her peer achieved.
And Breathe Normally is an incredibly well acted film and certainly stylishly presented. While the plot itself could use a bit of work and a few illogical character actions hold this back from being a more polished title, this Icelandic film is a decent enough drama and worth checking out if the premise piques your interest.