‘A Mouthful of Air’ Review

A sip of air opens with a warning: “The following movie may be offensive to people with a history of depression and anxiety.” The story of a young mother crippled by a sense of disappointment would be troubling for anyone, but that doesn’t necessarily make it relevant. While not without its cinematic bumps and influences, sometimes confusing moments, and even with a flimsy and unremarkable Amanda Seyfried at its center, the film is often hindered by a guiding feel that gives it the air of a signature long PSA.

Seyfried plays children’s book author Julie, who lives a seemingly glamorous life of upper-class Manhattan with her husband, Ethan (Finn Wittrock) and their young son, Teddy. Glimpses of the drafting table and what appear to be blueprints suggest that Ethan is an architect, but like most of the characters here, he exists primarily as a satellite. of Julie and her deep grief, the actor finds any nuanced note he can in the role. This couple’s apartment is a candy color so sweet that everything can’t be the same. And they’re not: As the main action begins, Julie is recovering from a suicide attempt and has become adept at covering her scarred wrists with individually placed bracelets and scarves. reasonable way.

A sip of air

Key point

Sensitive and agreeable but tense.

Release date: Friday, October 29

Cast: Amanda Seyfried, Finn Wittrock, Paul Giamatti, Amy Irving

Director and screenwriter: Amy Koppelman

R-rated, 1 hour 45 minutes

Director Amy Koppelman has focused on mental health in her three novels – one of which, I smile again, was made into a movie that provided an introduction to Sarah Silverman but not much of a narrative dimension. In directing his first feature, Koppelman did a better job of creating a more vivid world than the 2015 release achieved. Trading the class and social observations in her novel for a more sensory first-person experience, she produced a work of empathy. But it’s also largely unmotivated.

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The Seyfried close-ups that Koppelman and cinematographer Frank G. DeMarco rely on are studies of hidden emotion, and the essence of the film. Even as she creates picture books about an eerie character named Pinky (written and illustrated by Koppelman and brought to life animated by Mark Samsonovich), Julie’s thoughts are often a dark spiral. of what-ifs. Her every smile was clouded by extreme suspicion. A tearful, painful close-up obscures the sequence before the title; Julie chose an X-Acto knife as the solution to her problem, and although the film avoids gruesome details, a sense of chaotic, definitive despair makes the moment difficult to watch.

Koppelman’s script moves between multiple time periods, including a few flashbacks to Julie’s childhood stressing to clarify her relationship with her father (Michael Gaston) and her lifelong struggles. with anxiety. (In a short jump to the future, Finn Wittrock’s brother Dylan appears as an adult Teddy.) The lack of cell phones and flat-screen TVs, not to mention all the fancy jeans. stone decoration, delicately orchestrating central events at the end of the 20th century, the exact year is clearly revealed in the film: It’s 1995, for the film’s purposes, the period. relative darkness when most people understand postpartum depression as a medical problem rather than a failed mother.

However, Julie receives guidance and pharmaceutical treatment from a renowned psychiatrist (Paul Giamatti) whose stories help illustrate every point he makes. One of these involves a poem by Sylvia Plath, and goes to the heart of the film: the gruesome cleavage between a profound appreciation of life’s beauty and a forced death. Julie’s mother (Amy Irving) is supportive, but, as signaled by her plans to get some “face work” done, she’s keen on showing up. She speaks encouragingly to Julie about the need to “reset, let people know you are fine,” as if the other person’s comfort is the main issue.

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The mother and daughter dance around vague mentions of Julie’s absent father, his own abuse and mental health problems. When he appeared, Gaston injected himself with a note of self-awareness and shame. A brief exchange between Julie and her super builder, Hector (John Herrera), also delivers a shot of emotional intensity, and both cases emphasize, by comparison, much of the emotion. The feeling of the film is stagnant.

In one shot of Julie getting lost in a supermarket and another capturing the overwhelming sense of danger and danger she experiences at a suburban backyard party, A sip of air made her feel the full pangs of torment. But finely adjusted to Seyfried’s rapidly changing moods, the film is affected by getting too close to Julie. While watching Wittrock’s anxiety, Ethan told her in a rare moment of impatience: “You don’t have room for me to get mad at you.”

The strongest scenes are alive with thorny unpredictability that is lacking elsewhere. During her first confrontation with Julie since her suicide attempt, Ethan’s older sister Lucy (Jennifer Carpenter, attractive) can’t contain her anger and pain for being the one with their young child being bullied. followed, finding Julie unconscious and covered in blood in the bathroom. floor. “It’s always about you, Julie,” Lucy said—callous, yes, but also expressing understandable hurt, frustration, and horror at having to endure something so devastating even when you directly affected by it.

This is also one of the difficult problems that Koppelman is solving. There is understanding and compassion in the story she and Seyfried tell. As it tries to strike a balance between the whimsy of Julie’s children’s books and the oppressiveness of her mental state, it could use more clutter and friction, more more space to breathe in that mouth-filling air.

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