Breathless (2012)Overview -
Lorna (Gina Gershon, Showgirls, P.S. I Love You) is a strong-willed Texas woman who’s had enough of her untrustworthy husband Dale’s (Val Kilmer, Top Gun, Batman Forever) criminal acts and lack of husbandry. Fed up, she enlists the help of her old friend, Tiny (Kelli Giddish, NBC’s “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit”), to help her figure out what to do with Dale after his latest double-cross involving the theft of $100,000 from a bank.
As the girls brainstorm for a “neat” solution, they medicate themselves with only the best of prescriptions - Tennessee whiskey - which leads them to even bigger problems. When Sheriff Cooley (Ray Liotta, Goodfellas, Hannibal) inconveniently enters the conundrum, the story evolves into a tale of revenge and survival that resolves in true Texas fashion: bold and ruthless.
Storyline: Our Reviewer's Take
It's a bad omen when your opening credits are completely lifted from something much better. It's even worse when your cover and even the title font look like they've been taken straight from another source. Just look at the cover for 'Breathless' and tell me that you didn't see a 'Dexter' season sitting there for a second. The opening credits are ripped straight from 'Dexter's now famous "Serial Killer Getting Ready for the Day" credits complete with someone cooking breakfast with close-ups on meat being cut, knives being used, and eggs being cooked. Like I said, if you feel the need to steal meaningless things, like an opening credit sequence for example, from better sources, chances are the meat of your movie doesn't have much of a chance of being original either.
Such is the case with the direct-to-video supposed thriller 'Breathless.' After it gets done aping 'Dexter's opening credits the movie flies right into territory that seems rather Tarantino-like. Only this is Tarantino-light. It has all the quirkiness and darkly comedic situations that a Tarantino film might have, but it's far too obvious about its intentions. This movie desperately wants to be something Tarantino would make, but it fails.
Gina Gershon stars as Lorna. A housewife who occupies a double-wide in the middle of nowhere and has a no-good husband to boot. She spends most of her time sucking down filtered cigarettes, planting prize-winning daisies, and throwing shot after shot of Jack Daniels down her gullet.
The movie opens on an unconscious man lying on Lorna's living room floor. Lorna coolly calls her best friend Tiny (Kelli Giddish) to have her come over and help. Tiny arrives and Lorna entertains her with a story about a bank robbery that just recently took place and the missing hundred thousand dollars. Turns out the unconscious man on the floor is Lorna's husband Dale (Val Kilmer). Lorna knows that Dale stole that money, because he's a lying no-good thief of a husband anyway. The two of them tie Dale up to a chair and interrogate him. Once Dale relents and admits he stole the money, Lorna in total John-Travolta-'Pulp Fiction' fashion, accidentally blows Dale's brains out while shaking the gun carelessly in his direction.
Now the two women must get rid of the body before anyone notices. However, it just so happens that the police think Dale pulled off the robbery too and have come to the house to investigate.
The movie soon turns into a desperate bloodbath as the two women try everything from electric carving knives to blenders, trying to dispose of Dale's body while the county sheriff waits for his search warrant a few hundred feet away from the trailer.
The dialogue in the movie is furiously fast, all of it spoken with thick Texas accents. Only the characters use really big words, speaking in completely unrealistic prose that only serves to make the movie more annoying than it has to be. I'm sure they were going for charm with their wittier-than-thou screenplay, but instead it comes off as trying too hard to achieve an atheistic that other filmmakers do much better.
I didn't really find 'Breathless' all that amusing. Just in case you lost interest halfway through the movie the screenplay throws a few "Bet You Didn't See That Coming" surprise twists at you at the end, which come off just as desperate as the overwrought dialogue. In the end the only thing that's surprising is how they got away with copying so many other sources and not citing them during the credits.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
This is an Anchor Bay release. It's a Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack. It comes in a standard eco-friendly keepcase. It's noted as being a Region A release. The movie has been pressed on a 25GB Blu-ray Disc.
Most likely filmed digitally, 'Breathless' has a very over-saturated look to it. The 1080p presentation is superbly detailed, but does feature quite a bit of color saturation that seems falsely applied. Most skintones look bronze is appearance, which is annoying after a while. Just think of how most Michael Bay films look and you'll get the idea of the way this color palette is engineered.
The detail, however, looks great. Close-ups reveal all sorts of facial details, like Kilmer's scraggly facial hair, Gershon's caked-on lipstick, and tiny droplets of blood as they splatter onto the girls' dresses, faces, and skin. Because of the over-saturation the blood takes on an almost oily appearance, appearing more black than red. I didn't notice any egregious encoding errors that distracted from viewing. On the whole it's a very detailed presentation.
The entire movie takes place in the trailer so there isn't much in the way of different scenes that may offer more surround sound. The trailer setting is it and the Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mix does the best it can with the limited nature of the movie.
There are enough gunshots and screaming to satiate the louder aspects of the movie. Squishing and splattering noises have been amped up just so we know what's going on just slightly off screen. I found this a little irritating simply because you can tell that the noise of the girls stepping in blood and handling dismembered body parts has been highly exaggerated. The center speaker offers up clear dialogue. The rear speakers are kept pretty silent for the most part though. LFE is on the light side too. The movie doesn't call for much low-end involvement anyway.
The worst part about the audio is that there are numerous times where the dialogue falls out of sync with lips, then catches up again, only to fall behind again. It happens again and again. While the dialogue might be clear as I stated above, it isn't exactly always synced up. At times it's pretty noticeable and definitely detracts from one's viewing.
- Audio Commentary – The commentary is provided by director Jesse Baget and producer Christine Holder. You have to select the commentary in the "Set Up" menu under the "Audio" subsection, which is pretty frustrating if you don't know where to look. They talk about the opening sequence which is totally ripped from 'Dexter' and they do talk about the opening of that show compared to this one. Director Jesse Baget says he's never really seen that show, I kind of had to say, "Hmmm…. Really?" This is a pretty bland commentary though. It's also pretty sparse. Lots of dead spots where nothing is said.
- Making of 'Breathless' (HD, 15 min.) – Clip-heavy making-of featurette with some behind-the-scenes footage. Director/writer Jesse Baget discusses the movie's origin, how the script was created, and about his inspirations for the movie. Baget actually gives a pretty candid discussion on different aspects of filmmaking like scripting, casting, and producing.
- "Lost in Thought" (HD, 24 min.) – Haden Guest, director of the Harvard Film Archive gives what amounts to an oral report on Ceylan's directing career and his importance to cinema.
- Trailer (HD, 3 min.) – The theatrical trailer is included.
'Breathless' tries way too hard and only succeeds in imitating much better shows and filmmakers instead of making something unique. I could tell the movie was in trouble after its painfully obvious reproduction of 'Dexter's opening title sequence. It never really recovered. It might be marginally enjoyable enough for a rental (if only to wonder, yet again, how Val Kilmer fell so hard), but I'd think that's about as far as I'd go in recommending it.
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