"The Air I Breathe" DVD Review
May 30, 2008 by Zach Demeter
Iíve asked it before and Iíll ask it again: how are so many films with not only strong actors playing the leads but also supporting roles getting swallowed into the abyss of film history? Granted, The Air I Breathe isnít strong enough to stand side by side with other Hollywood powerhouses, but when your cast is made up of Oscar nominees (and one winner) along with other Golden Globe partakers, itís a wonder how something like this slides through the cracks so easily without putting up more of a fight. Obviously not all films with a slew of stars are worth seeing, but in the case of The Air I Breathe itís worth more than the momentary glimpse it received in theaters.
Four strangers are linked together by varying events in their lives by one man: Fingers (Andy Garcia). While none of them come by his way in the same manner, all of them are trying to escape him and The Air I Breathe encompasses the lives of Love (Kevin Bacon), Pleasure (Brendan Fraser), Sorrow (Sarah Michelle Gellar) and Happiness (Forest Whittaker). The chain of events get rolling when Happiness weasels out on a bet that he canít pay and Pleasure is sent after him. All the while Happiness is dealing with his now ruined life, Love, Pleasure and Sorrow are dealing with their own issues that all eventually become intertwined with one another.
These type of ďeverythingís linked!Ē films arenít new and unfortunately I think theyíre going to become more popular with popularity of Babel in recent years. While I didnít enjoy Babel all that much simply because I found the stories to be boring a lot of the time, I did see the charm that the film boasted with four seemingly unrelated stories all eventually coming together. With The Air I Breathe, the film is more entertaining, partly due to its rapid ninety-five minute run time, but it also requires you to suspend your disbelief a lot more. The connections arenít as loose as they are in Babel and as such you arenít given as much time to actually believe that these events could actually happen.
The Air I Breathe starts out promisingly enough with Whittakerís character taking center stage, but by the time weíre forced to switch gears we donít really feel like weíve seen enough of Whittakerís character to comfortable move on. Unfortunately we have to anyway and when Fraser and Hirschís characters get into the mix, it becomes all that much more flooded with storylines that we barely hang onto. Hirschís character seems wasted as he ends up disappearing early on in the film and only a brief bit of dialogue he spouts is later reused.
The real core of the film revolves around Fraser and Gellarís characters, who eventually form an emotional connection with one another. It seems like itíd be an unbelievable romance at first, but the two actually manage to make it rather believable and, again a victim of the films run time, weíre barely given a chance to explore their relationship. That seems to be the story of the entire filmóa group of very likeable and enjoyable characters that all get shortchanged by the ninety-five minute run time. It really would have benefited if it had a longer reachÖeven an additional twenty five minutes would have helped it breathe a bit more (which is what the film is titled for anyway).
So where is the suspension of disbelief required, you ask? Well it occurs when Kevin Baconís character is shoe-horned into the film, which Iím still questioning why the character was there to begin with. He has little to no impact on the other events in the film and he only seems to suck up more time away from the other characters. Unlike the rest of the cast whom we see weave in and out of each otherís stories, Baconís character is seen briefly for a few seconds in a hospital and then shows up later on for the full story, but itís too little too late at that point, as almost all of the other characters in the film have had their stories wrapped up.
What the film lacks for in overall cohesiveness and storytelling it makes up for with the cinematography, which looks absolutely stunning at times. Itís really well done and when paired with the music and sound work done in the film make for a very believable picture, in terms of production value. So many times Iíve seen these star-studded affairs blow their budget on the casts paychecks and not enough on the actual film elements, but The Air I Breathe really seems to pull it all off.
Ultimately the film sputters and stops too much along the way to be fully appreciated and the final outcome is much too rapid in pace to be completely believed. Still, I canít say I didnít at least enjoy the film on some superficial level, I just canít say I entirely believe the film either and thatís where The Air I Breathe ends up failing. The film is still worth seeing for the excellent acting and visuals, but, like me, youíll likely be left with not enough substance to really grab hold of. Rent It.
The Air I Breathe slides onto DVD and Blu-ray via way of Image Entertainment. The DVD release sports a standard DVD amaray case without any insert or fancy outer ring and contains a series of trailers before the film plays. Once the menu loads weíre taken to a nicely done and easily navigated series of menus to find our way through the sections on the disc. Audio and video for the DVD are strong, with a nice anamorphic widescreen transfer that has deep blacks and an audio track that uses the surrounds on more than one occasion. Most of the time the audio remains front focused, but a few of the outdoor sequences and music laden areas make full use of the surrounds as well.
Moving onto the extras we first have a commentary with director/co-writer Jieho Lee, co-writer Bob DeRosa, director of photography Walt Lloyd and editor Robert Hoffman. Itís pretty loaded for a film as low-profile as this, but the four make for a pretty interesting track, with Lee dominating most of the discussion, but all of them adding in plenty of details of their own. It helps you appreciate the film a bit more, if only from a technical stand point, but itís a solid track either way.
The only other extras available here are a set of four deleted scenes (5:45) all presented in anamorphic widescreen, but containing a fair amount of fuzzy and unclear video. Some scenes look better than others but altogether the four scenes just donít look that greatónor do they add anything to the film itself. Finally we have a set of outtakes (2:06), which are more just technical goofs than actual line flubs, though there are a few of those as well.
Overall this is a laid back release in terms of extras, but the four-man commentary is certainly worth a listen if you enjoyed the film in the slightest. Like the film this one earns a Rental.
The Air I Breathe is now available on DVD and Blu-ray.