EIFF – Opening Night Experience and Breathe In

With my enjoyment of last year’s EIFF opening of Killer Joe, I was in a bit of high spirits for this year’s opening night to kick start my ten day of film watching and it was to begin with Breathe In by Drake Doremus. Little did I know my spirits were about to get dampened and there wasn’t any rain.

The Experience

While the delegates and stars were making their way to the National Museum of Scotland for the party, I went towards the Festival Theatre to get the 21:15 screening for the general public.

After crossing the red carpet, I met with my first disappointment when I produced my ticket to enter. I had been told that the seat I had pre-booked was not available and another one was to be arranged elsewhere which was at the side of the screen. Naturally I challenged on why this was, especially as I had booked well in advance, to be told that the seats were not suitable for viewing and the area had been closed off which raised the question why they were sold in the first place.

Having to settle for the new seat, this placed the thought in my mind to get the other seats changed for the closing night film, Not Another Happy Ending, and for Monsters University which the authorities have thought to show there for families rather than at a proper cinema (Why? Bums on seats, laddie!). In addition, it gave me a sore neck after the movie.

When I took my seat, it was not long until the Chris Fujiwara came on stage to give the opening speech to the festival and stated that Breathe In would set the tone for the festival. While he was joined by the director Drake Doremus who gave a brief sentence reminding people that Scotland has golf courses and he has played on two of them. Then there was Felicity Jones who said something…I couldn’t quite hear and it was short whatever it was. Then Dustin O’Halloran who did the music for the film made the comment and stated that this was favourite city…without mentioning which city he was in. Then they all went away back to the party with no further discussion on the film or comments on the festival.

Roll on the film…

So Breathe In, a film where an English foreign student Sophie (Felicity Jones) comes over to the US to stay with a family in a small upstate New York town where she begins to have an impact on the family she stays with.

It opens with getting the sense of the family and more importantly that Keith (Guy Pierce) still holds on to the past memories when he was playing in the bands and feels that he has little in common with both his wife and daughter as picked up when they are talking to each other. Until the arrival of Sophie where he finds a kindred spirit through the music.

There isn’t much in the way of dialogue and most of it becomes inaudible as it is softly spoken making it a little difficult to follow if there was an important piece of conversation or empathise with one of the characters. I had to pick up on what I missed from online searching finding The Guardians review to be a good source.

Fortunately, there is music to help convey the emotions and feelings along with the occasional background sound to show us what a character is feeling like the screech of car tires in a car parking lot.

Then there is the camera work which is close on the characters to make it more on the them rather than the surrounding so we never get a sense of place, though the shakiness did get a little irritating in some scenes.

So overall, there is a beautiful piece of music in the film along with interesting use of it to convey feelings, though soft dialogue loses some characterisation and more could have been done with daughter and wife.

As the opening film for the festival, well I hope not as there could have been more in it and would have bettered from some more enthusiasm from the guests to the audience.

Isn’t Guy Pearce funny…

One more thing, something from my experience while sitting in the audience. There were some people laughing during this drama film, not out loud but enough to be heard. These were in the scenes

  • Guy Pearce plays Jenga (you can tell it was a setup tower for the shot, that top half would be more squint in a proper game)
  • Guy Pearce puts clothes in a suitcase (I could be wrong, it could be ‘Look, they have wire coat hangers!’)

It wasn’t all Guy Pearce, apparently Elise Eberie got some folk to laugh at her screwed up face when she wants to tell her father what she saw.

Personally, I didn’t get the joke but neither did a vast majority of the audience.

What Next…

Well I have an angry complaint email to write on seating as the Festival Theatre and hoping that tonights showings of Sofia’s Last Ambulance and Harry Dean Stanton: Partly Fiction rekindle my passion for the film festival and not make me consider two weeks of annual leave wasted.

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