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|The Air I Breathe|
|Directed by||Jieho Lee|
|Produced by||Darlene Caamaño
Emilio Diez Barroso
|Written by||Jieho Lee
Sarah Michelle Gellar
|Music by||Marcelo Zarvos|
|Release date(s)||United States limited
January 25, 2008
|Box office||$ 25,775 ($ 2,597,648 worldwide)|
The Air I Breathe is the 2008 directorial film debut of Korean-American filmmaker Jieho Lee, who co-wrote the script with Bob DeRosa. It stars Kevin Bacon, Julie Delpy, Brendan Fraser, Andy Garcia, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Emile Hirsch, and Forest Whitaker. The film was financed by NALA Investments through its production company NALA Films, and was released on January 25, 2008 in the United States.
The concept of the film is based on an ancient Chinese proverb that breaks life down into four emotional cornerstones – Happiness (Whitaker), Pleasure (Fraser), Sorrow (Gellar), and Love (Bacon). The proverb speaks of these emotions, not as isolated fragments of feelings, but as elements that make up the whole of the human existence. Each of the four protagonists is based on one of the four emotions; and like the proverb their paths are inextricably linked to each other, akin to the Fingers (Garcia) of a hand.
None of the four main characters' actual names are mentioned in the whole film, although Gellar's character's stage name, "Trista", is mentioned several times.
Each of the elements of life is portrayed using different characters, with the character Fingers (Garcia) playing the character that intertwines all four individuals.
Forest Whitaker plays a bank employee who loves butterflies. When he accidentally overhears a sure bet at a horse race he decides to bet $50,000, borrowing from the bookies. Unfortunately he loses the bet and is ensnared by the gangster Fingers, who runs that gambling/betting pool.
Fingers derives his name from his habit of cutting off the fingers of those who don’t pay back their debts. When Fingers threatens Happiness that he will cut off his fingers if he doesn’t pay his debt, Happiness decides to rob a bank. After fleeing to a roof the police order him to drop his gun. He does not comply, throwing his bag with money into the street, and is killed by the police. When he hits the ground his coat is spread out making him look like a butterfly.
Brendan Fraser plays a man with a sad past and an ability to see the future of the people he meets, an ability that deprives him of the pleasure of enjoying the surprises in life. When he was young, he was forced to defend his younger brother in a street fight against two teenagers. Pleasure won the fight but found his brother lying dead. Pleasure often has flashbacks of this scene throughout the film. Later in life, Pleasure joins Fingers' gang and becomes one of his favorites due mostly to his ability. He, however, cannot see the future of Trista (Gellar).
He is set to look after Fingers' nephew, Tony. He has a vision of Tony climbing a fence and falling back. To avoid trouble, he leaves Tony in a club while working (collecting protection money). Unfortunately, one of the girls that Tony is with, high on drugs, staggers into the next room. When Tony follows her, they struggle over a gun, and an older mobster gets shot. Pleasure rescues Tony, and they run from the henchmen, ending at the fence of the earlier vision. Tony gets away, and it is Pleasure who is caught by the henchmen, and beaten up.
Sarah Michelle Gellar plays a famous pop singer and dancer with the stage name "Trista" who works with a manager who is indebted to Fingers. The manager uses all of Trista's money to pay Fingers, but that is not enough, and so he gives Trista's contract to Fingers. Trista escapes from Fingers and meets Pleasure. Fingers, naturally, has already ordered his team to find her. In the meantime, Pleasure helps Trista by letting her stay in his house knowing that his house is the only place where Fingers wouldn't search. They become lovers, but eventually Fingers finds out, and kills Pleasure. Hers is Kp(a-b-) blood group, which she reveals when the interviewer asks her what is special about her. This becomes useful information after Love hears it on the television, at which point he is looking for blood type that is the same as Gina's; when he is trying to save her.
Kevin Bacon plays a doctor who is in love with his longtime friend Gina (Julie Delpy). He never confessed his love and, so, she married his best friend. Gina gets bitten by a poisonous snake and needs a rare form of blood that only Trista has. Love tries to get into a building where Trista is filming a new video; however, her best friend is in the process of trying to help Trista run away. He runs to Trista. The bodyguards, thinking he is a crazed fan, grab him and Trista is accidentally knocked down, hits her head and ends up in the hospital. When she awakens, Fingers informs her that she will have to abort the baby that she has just become aware that she is carrying. In her sorrow that the one thing she has left of the man she loves (Pleasure) will be lost, she sneaks out of her room and goes to the roof where she intends to commit suicide. Love (Bacon) sees her on the roof and runs up just in time to see her fall. He grabs the bed sheet that she had wrapped around her like a cape and catches her. He tells her she will have to come up and grab his hand for him to be able to pull her up. After she does this, the movie flashes to Gina, who awakens from her coma. Love gives Trista his car as a gift for saving Gina and she leaves the hospital.
Trista escapes in Love's car and hits Happiness (in the scene that we saw from his point of view earlier), and as she sits at the intersection coming to grips with what has happened, the money he throws from the top of the building falls and lands on Trista's car roof. The film closes with Trista at an airport traveling away and Fingers looking for her in the hospital at the same time.
American critics gave the film generally negative reviews, although Sarah Michelle Gellar's performance was praised by many critics. As of April 1, 2008, the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reported that 14% of critics gave the film positive reviews, based on 22 reviews. Metacritic reported the film had an average score of 37 out of 100, based on 9 reviews. The film was a major failure at the box office in spite of the famous cast.
The film was released on DVD and Blu-ray Disc on May 27, 2008 in the United States and includes a commentary, featurette, trailer and deleted scenes. The film was released on DVD in the UK on September 15, 2008.
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