The Air I Breathe Jieho Lee

The Air I Breathe Jieho Lee
Jieho Lee makes an impressive full-length feature film debut with this multi-perspective drama. Based on an ancient Chinese proverb that segregates life into the emotional keystones of happiness, pleasure, sorrow and love, The Air I Breathe examines these emotions through the interconnected stories of four principle characters. Forest Whitaker commits to a masterful performance of subtle genius as a downtrodden businessman forced into extreme circumstances that lead to his unlikely discovery of "happiness” after a gambling bet goes awry and he has to deal with the venomous cojones of Andy Garcia. "Pleasure” is a sadistic but ultimately leavening trip with Brendan Fraser as a gangster numbed by his ability to see the future. Fraser is surprisingly believable as the cold-blooded but morally sound gangster and far more believable than Nicholas Cage was in a similar role in the sacrilegiously farcical Philip Dick adapted sci-fi flop Next. Another often-uneven actor steps up to the task of a weightier role for the "sorrow” segment. Sarah Michelle Gellar turns in one of her best performances outside of the Buffyverse as a mid-level pop star who has her management contract bought out by Andy Garcia’s menacing mobster. The final piece in this Alejandro Inarritu indebted jigsaw puzzle narrative is Kevin Bacon’s "love.” The Bacon-ater is firing on all cylinders as a doctor/third wheel to his ex-sweetheart, who he’s still in love with, and her husband, who happens to be his best friend. Toss in a jerky little smartass amateur wise-guy performance from Emile Hirsch in the film’s second movement and you’ve got one heck of an ensemble performance for such an under the radar flick. If Lee can assemble a cast and put together a film this solidly good his first time out, I can’t wait to see where he’ll go with more experience. Special features include a few decent deleted scenes and funny outtakes, like Gellar busting a groove mid scene to some inappropriately cued music and a commentary track with the director, co-writer, DOP and editor. (Th!nk)