Korean American filmmaker Jieho Lee’s debut directorial venture The Air I Breathe, albeit is not a critics’ choice, certainly has the star-cast and an intriguing plot that keep the viewers engaged for most of the time.
The storyline is based on the concept of four human emotions: happiness, pleasure, sorrow, and love that together make up the whole of human existence (as per an ancient Chinese proverb).
Each of the four emotions is portrayed by four different characters: Forest Whitaker as Happiness, Sarah Michelle Gellar as Sorrow, and Brendan Fraser as Pleasure. Interestingly, all four protagonists relate to one more player i.e. Fingers, played by Danny Garcia. Probably, the interlinked storyline is the very simple thing that makes this movie watchable.
The Air I Breathe – Movie Trailer
The movie starts with Whitaker (Happiness), a bank employee, who unfortunately drags himself into horse racing gambling, borrowing from the bookies only to lose and find himself under the threat of a gangster named Fingers who runs the gambling business. Fingers got his name from his habit of cutting off the fingers of those who don’t pay back their debts. When Fingers threatened Happiness, he decided to rob a bank.
On the same line Fraser (Pleasure) plays a man with a sad past but who has the ability to see the future of people he meets. But he takes his ability as a curse that deprives him of experiencing the real pleasure of life. He works as an assistant to the gangster Fingers and is engaged to look after Fingers’ nephew, Tony. After an altercation between Tony and a few other mobsters inside a club, Fraser was bitten up by those while saving Tony.
Sorrow (played by Sarah with the screen name “Trista”) is a famous pop singer and dancer who works with a manager, who is indebted to Fingers. The manager, in his attempt to pay back the debt, gives Trista’s contract to Fingers. Pleasure helps Trista to escape from Fingers, but the love of Pleasure and Sorrow ends when Fingers finds them out and kills pleasure.
The last protagonist is “Love” played by yet another finest actor Kevin Bacon. He plays a doctor who is in love with his long-time friend Gina (Julie Delpy), who also happens to be his best friend’s wife [Love never confessed, so Gina married his best friend]. After a life-threatening accident when Gina needs a rare form of blood that only Trista has, Love becomes frantic to save his love.
It is always tricky to develop a storyline with interesting yet interlinked characters. It’s very likely that the characterization will fall short and may not justify the desired effect of an allegory. For that matter, the message gets blurred, and we kind of wonder what exactly it is trying to say.
Nevertheless, The Air I Breathe is a nice weekend watch, if you are not asking for a hard-hitting suspense drama or a thriller. But, please don’t expect a definite purpose of this storyline, if you get anything out of this in terms of life and philosophy, please share with us in the comment section below.
Cast: Brendan Fraser (Pleasure), Sarah Michelle Gellar (Sorrow), Kevin Bacon (Love), Forest Whitaker (Happiness), Emile Hirsch (Tony), Andy Garcia (Fingers), Cecilia Suarez (Allison), and Julie Delpy (Gina).
Directed by Jieho Lee
Written by Jieho Lee and Bob DeRosa
Release Date/Year: January 25, 2007