Film Review: The Air I Breathe


The Air I Breathe is a Crime Drama made up of 4 different interlinking stories, based on the an ancient Chinese proverb that breaks life down into four emotional cornerstones: happiness, pleasure, sorrow and love. Each cornerstone is represented by a different story which sums up what that single emotion means to the teller. This film marks the directorial debut of Korean Jieho Lee and possess a pretty impressive ensemble cast.

Happiness – a businessman (Forest Whitaker) who bets his life on a horse race after overhearing a conversation he wasn’t meant to hear. Pleasure – a gangster who can foresee the future (Brendan Fraser) has to babysit his bosses nephew (Emile Hirsch) for the evening. Sorrow – a pop star (Sarah Michelle Gellar) falls prey to a crime boss (Andy Garcia) after her management sells her as part of a debt. Love – a doctor (Kevin Bacon) tries to save the life of a patient. With each story the plot deepens in an attempt to reveal what is the true meaning of life.

I really wanted to like this film, I personally am a huge fan of stories within stories with each being told from a different perspective. While the acting was extremely good the plot of the film appears to have no actual conclusion. I am aware that like any chinese proverb the interpretation is left to the ‘reader’ and in this case ‘watcher’ to decipher the meaning but even though this is a well crafted and interesting film, you are left wandering by the end as to what exactly was the point. Possibly a second viewing may enlighten me further, maybe like life this film shows how things happen for unexplained reasons, people question life and ask what does it mean? but like life itself who actually knows. Life is built up of complex emotions and stories much like this film, beautiful, poignant, tragic, interesting but minus a conclusion, or possibly it is just left up to the viewer to decide for themselves.