Directed by Vincent Chan, Robert David Duncan, Jack Eaton, Jeff Fiorentino, Gia Frino, Pavel Guzman, Jonnie Howard, Ryan W. Martin, Jeffrey Palmer, Satyendra Pandey, Stacia Roybal, Lina-Maria Stoyanova
Written by Vincent Chan, Robert David Duncan, Gia Frino, Pavel Guzman, Jonnie Howard, Raymond Howard, Paul Mackie, Ryan W. Martin, Dean Ravell, Lina-Maria Stoyanova
Starring Chris Bain, Zoe Cunningham, Andrew Regan, Imogen Hartley, Simon Green, Chantelle Readman, Neil May, Grant Murphy, Kerry Ward, Andrew Marsden, Lee Glasby, Paul Mackie
Indie Film Review by Chris Olson
A humongous undertaking, Breathe Easy is a filmmaking mission to achieve something massive in modern storytelling. The indie film attempts to tell an end-of-the-world story using a vast array of separate 23 directors across the world in 17 countries, each with a different part of the story to contribute (as you may have noticed from the endless credits at the beginning of this film review). The result is an unorthodox tapestry of raw, punkish footage, which achieves an admirable sense of threaded collaboration, with a degree of inconsistent narrative and tone. Against a somewhat ambiguous backdrop of clouds in the sky being the harbinger of doom for mankind, we are treated to various different storylines across the globe where this phenomenon is happening. Differing reactions to the possible End Days can be found among the various locations and characters, such as the London newscaster (Zoe Cunningham) who is becoming increasingly baffled by the government's reaction to the looming outbreak, or the American man sat in a bathtub cracking wise on a phone. Other clusters of characters do take the threat seriously, and experience the emotional and heartbreaking realisation about what it means for humanity. Some of the more touching sequences in the film, such as a man in India leaving a loving tribute to his mother on his mobile phone, or a couple arguing in their urban apartment about whether to stay or flee, are particularly affecting. There exists a sketch show make-up to the format of Breathe Easy, like a YouTube playlist titled “Apocalypse Clips”. There is not a great deal connecting them, other than a loosely outlined cloud menace, which is never fully explored, and the occasional heavy metal soundtrack (provided by Jeff Fiorentino), which works brilliantly in some scenes but wreaks havoc in others. It would be easy to dismiss this indie film as being amateurish and chaotic, and it is both those things, but part of its appeal is this formidable attitude the film has adopted, since its inception, to create something new, relevant, and topical.
Watch the official Breathe Easy Teaser Movie Trailer above.
An obvious example is the filming quality of each of the varying subplots. Some have a rather impressive degree of filmmaking, whilst others are barely watchable through poor lighting, shaky cameras, and wind rustling through the microphones. For many audiences, this lack of cohesion will be a sticking point, too used to the slick perfection of Hollywood films and unable to get past the technical flaws. However, audiences seeking something a little more down to earth, especially in the indie film market, may appreciate the form a touch more. Perhaps, however, this only works when you have a dystopian storyline spanning multiple countries, with multiple narratives, where it is not only acceptable but believable to have such vastly contrasting films, like a collage of every type of humanity coming together globally. It would not, for example, work in a rom-com where the audience expects the narrative to stay consistent throughout. The strengths of Breathe Easy lie in its ambition, for being as bold as it is. There is also a good degree of crude comedy. Anyone who has seen #DrunksLikeUs (another Paul Mackie outing) will enjoy the appearance of several cast members, who serve up a slice of boozy banter, their waster attitudes and predilection for beer is pretty funny, and could have worked as its own comedy film. Imogen Hartley also gives an enjoyable turn as the leader of a post-apocalyptic witches coven. The majority of the performances are a little stilted when it comes to moving the plot along, which most likely derives from a lack of cohesion between the various films. There could have been something special with Breathe Easy if there was a little more glue holding it together. A more consistent narrative in each of the various films with more connecting them would have been beneficial, as well as stronger production values (or at least the same across the board) to keep from jolting the audience out of the movie when things get a bit raw. The commitment to breaking records and transcending global borders has left the movie feeling baggy. A trimmed version (shedding about 45 minutes) with the best of the offerings could provide a stronger film, to rival big budget outbreak movies like Contagion (2011) and World War Z (2013. What Breathe Easy needs is one overseer to tie all the ends together in a more focused way that keeps its style and attitude, whilst bridging the gap between mainstream audiences and indie films.