Breathless Jesse Baget

Breathless Jesse Baget
A marginally successful exercise in economic filmmaking, Breathless uses its sole location of a trailer in the middle of the Texas desert as the setting for a darkly comic, noir-tinged crime spree. In essence more of a piece of theatre, the writing never achieves the euphoric heights of influences the Coen Brothers and Tarantino, which it clearly wears on its sleeves. As we open, Lorna (Gina Gershon) has knocked out husband Dale (Val Kilmer) with a frying pan. She summons best friend Tiny (Kelli Giddish) to help her figure out how to deal with the revelation that Dale has robbed a savings and loan of $100,000 and planned to skip town. In interrogating him, the gun Lorna is holding inadvertently fires, leaving Dale with a hole in the back of his head and the two of them with a body on their hands. It's a bad time for Sheriff Cooley (Ray Liotta) to show up, especially when he insists on waiting outside until a search warrant arrives. The pair decides to dispose of Dale in the most macabre fashion possible, employing electric knives, blenders and fire in a desperate attempt to make him disappear. A series of bombshells and double-crosses ensue, some more obvious than others. The actors all seem to appreciate the indulgently dialogue-heavy screenplay, with Gershon and Giddish doing a lot of heavy lifting in scenes that sometimes languish a little too long, The appearance of character actor Wayne Duvall as a private investigator enlivens the latter half with a performance that is hammy in the best possible way. The film suffers from the same issue of feeling static and stagey that afflicts most movies centered on one location, though it does deserve credit for showcasing effective actors, especially the underrated Gershon. In a short making-of featurette, director Jesse Baget and his producers discuss the interesting decision to shoot the interiors on a soundstage as opposed to on location, or the possibility of hauling a trailer to a soundstage. A commentary track reveals how quickly everything fell into place for the production and the inherent limitations on filming in only 12 days, with no rehearsal for the actors in advance. The only thing that remains frustratingly unexplained is the banal and derivative title. (Anchor Bay)