Monday, September 22, 2014

Review: Breathless (2008)

Breathless (Review)
Yang Ik-june/Yang Ik-june/2008
Where to Watch:
Netflix Streaming
Amazon Prime

"...may leave you breathless by the end..."

A violent and angry debt-collector, Sang-hoon (Yang Ik-june), develops a friendship with a troubled high school student, Yeon-hee (Kim Kkot-bi).

Breathless is a slow-paced drama following Sang-hoon and Yeon-hee as they develop their friendship, despite their age difference. Sang-hoon and Yeon-hee share similar personalities, as well as similar lifestyles and lives, which brings them close together. They bicker and curse at each other at all times, but they have a subtle understanding. It seems that most of their lives have been dominated by violence. Breathless leads to a very powerful ending.

Breathless may seem like a simple drama based off of my explanation, but it's really a complex, character-driven film. The story meticulously crafts a genuine and effective friendship between Sang-hoon and Yeon-hee. Particularly because it also takes time to craft Sang-hoon and Yeon-hee as individual characters. We really delve deeply into characters like Sang-hoon. Breathless also makes strong statements about life, family, and violence.

I may not even have to say this as you probably already realize, but Breathless is a very bleak and depressing film. It's a film that revolves around troubled characters and an endless cycle of violence. And, it's extremely effective, without being melodramatic. This is a film that just may leave you breathless by the end -- it's that powerful. If you're looking for a film about happiness, this isn't for you. There's only but a glimmer of hope in Breathless. If you're the type of person who loves to feel during film, good or bad, like myself, then Breathless is a must-watch.

The acting is all-around superb. Yang Ik-june, who also directs the film, delivers a fantastic performance -- a subtle and effective performance for an intricate character. Kim Kkot-bi also does very well. The film has a quite a few closeup shots; they can be a little overwhelming, especially during scenes with a lot of movement. The film doesn't utilize a lot of music, which makes the drama much more impressive, but I did love the music that played during the credits. The film looks great in high definition, and the English subtitles on the Netflix Instant stream are great -- a few spelling and grammatical errors, though. Writer and director Yang Ik-june crafts a very bleak and effective drama without compromise and superb subtly.

Overall, Breathless is a masterpiece. It's one of the few films nowadays that can break you down, and for good reason. It's bleak and depressing, but it's with purpose -- it makes a great statement. If you like slow-paced films and don't mind one-too-many closeups, Breathless is a must-watch for any fan of the genre, and any fan of Korean cinema. I hope to see more of Yang Ik-june in the future.

Score: 10/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and blood.

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