Review: ‘Deep Breath’

A frighteningly convincing portrait of random, idiotic behavior on a ramshackle sheep farm in France, "Deep Breath" is a peculiar hybrid of country bumpkin, nature and highbrow art pics. Evocative B&W lensing and right-on perfs from non-pro cast invite fest exposure, starting with Venice, where it won two prizes.

A frighteningly convincing portrait of random, idiotic behavior on a ramshackle sheep farm in France, “Deep Breath” is a peculiar hybrid of country bumpkin, nature and highbrow art pics. Evocative B&W lensing and right-on perfs from non-pro cast invite fest exposure, starting with Venice, where it won two prizes.

Covering a lot of strange ground in 77 minutes, disjointed pic has a semi-dour, voyeuristic quality that compels as it discomforts. Film is a grab-bag of pot-bellied men getting plastered while teen protagonist David (Pierre-Louis Bonnetblanc) drinks till he’s nauseous, wonders who his father is and suffers from creepy visions. “You can’t be happy if you think too much,” says young David’s uncle between swigs, and so it goes until a shot is fired. A sheep is slaughtered, gutted, beheaded and roasted and, as the day wears on, guidance-deprived David doesn’t fare much better. “Breath” is probably the year’s only entry, French or otherwise, in which guys urinate outside the outhouse and women play cello in turreted castles. Original title was “Breath of the Wolf” (David has lupine fantasies) but filmmakers switched after “Brotherhood of the Wolf” clicked.

Deep Breath

France

Production

A Morgane production. Produced by Gerard Lacroix. Directed, written by Damien Odoul.

Crew

Camera (B&W), Pascale Granel; editor, Gwenola Heaulme; art director, Helene Melani; costume designer, Antoinette Vernier; assistant director, Nadege Verrier. Reviewed at Cercle Foch screening room, Paris, June 23, 2001. (In Venice Film Festival, Cinema of the Present, competing; New York Film Festival.) Running time: 77 MIN.

With

Pierre-Louis Bonnetblanc, Dominique Chevalier, Maxime Dalbrut, Jean-Claude Lecante, Jean Milord, Stephane Terpereau.
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