The Air I Breathe (2 stars)

The Air I Breathe

(15) 95min


Taking its cue from an old Chinese proverb that says life is composed of four emotions – happiness, pleasure, sorrow and love – this ensemble drama featuring an A-list cast and four intertwined plotlines is reminiscent of such prestige Hollywood dramas as Crash and 21 Grams. But where the quality of those films made their rather self-conscious worthiness bearable, the overly schematic and quite derivative nature of The Air I Breathe results in a film that’s predictable, portentous and pretentious.

In each of the four loosely connected stories a character in crisis experiences one of the proverbial emotions, albeit through a complex twist of fate. In the first, Forest Whitaker’s accountant gets into financial trouble with Andy Garcia’s gangster and attempts to rob a bank to solve the problem. In the second, Brendan Fraser’s emotionally tortured thug uses his god-given paranormal ability to predict the future for his boss, Garcia. In the third, her debt-ridden manager sells Sarah Michelle Gellar’s pop starlet to Garcia. And in the fourth story, Kevin Bacon’s doctor attempts to save the life of his beloved Julie Delpy after she’s bitten by a snake.

The performances are as good as you’d expect from this reasonably decent cast, and director Bob DeRosa keeps the quartet of narratives moving along nicely, dressing the whole thing up with plenty of glossy style. But no matter how ridiculous the plot twists that bring the characters into contact with one another and their individual destinies are, the contrivances are obvious a mile off. And the ending is laughable.

Selected release from Fri 16 May.

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