Sarah Michelle Gellar
It’s obvious writer/director Jieho Lee is trying to imbue a traditional sense of Eastern meta-philosophy in each of the four stories he presents—a corporate drone with a gambling problem, a loan shark who can see the future, a pop star looking for direction in her life, and a doctor trying to save a former flame—but none of the mini-plots are that original, or even particularly compelling. Everything about THE AIR I BREATHE feels familiar, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but if Lee is trying to share with the audience a profound message, or a message of any sort, I completely missed it. Most of the blame falls on the rushed storytelling. Whitaker’s narrative, for instance, happens so fast you don’t particularly feel anything towards him (other than suspicion at a grown man obsessed with butterflies). Because of this, the connections between the characters and individual stories, where I assume the film’s message is supposed to arise from, are meaningless.
The cast list is impressive for a film of this size, boasting Forrest Whitaker, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Brendan Fraser, Andy Garcia, Julie Delpy, Emile Hirsch, John Cho, Kelly Hu and Kevin Bacon (who does not show his penis). The acting is solid all the way around, especially from a sleazy Hirsch and a surprisingly dramatic Fraser. However, aside from Gellar and Fraser, it feels like everyone worked on the movie 2-3 days tops. Lee’s direction is competent and stylish at parts, but without the story there 100%, all the acting and style in the world can’t elevate THE AIR I BREATHE.
Deleted Scenes: Mostly the same crap (more with Whitaker and the stupid butterfly), but you do get some much needed resolution with Bacon and Delpy.
Outtakes: Just what a pretentious drama needs…a gag reel!
Extra Tidbit: Lee just signed on to direct the adaptation of the videogame actioner KANE & LYNCH.