Pikelet (Samson Coulter) and Loonie (Ben Spence) are young adolescents roaming the streets in 1970s coastal Australia. Their curiosity and exploration of life leads them to discover surfing, a hobby they soon take up on a near-daily basis. It’s here they meet Sando (Simon Baker), an ex-pro now living a quiet, secluded life with his wife Eva (Elizabeth Debicki). Sando, Pikelet and Loonie form an unexpected friendship with their new mentor of sorts, who takes them under his wing and pushes them to not only become stronger surfers, but stronger people too, and it’s this friendship that will alter their lives forever.
Baker’s direction is beautiful. The darkened, stormy weather matched with stunning scenic locations makes for an inherent beauty that’s impossible not to capture on screen. Rick Rifici’s underwater cinematography feels very first-take a lot of the time, but it’s Marden Dean’s above the surface shots that really come into the forefront, most notably a poster-worthy shot of young Pikelet on his back in the midst of the ocean. It’s stunning. But the beauty of the images doesn’t detract from the impact of the performances, and everyone here is truly sensational.
Australian cinema is on its dying days. It’s not that we don’t have stories to tell, it’s that we don’t have an audience to tell it to. Yes, sure, we produce plenty of garbage, but Breath isn’t one of those films. This is something special. Something unique. It’s an Australian coming of age story that’s going to deeply resonate with audiences everywhere, and while it’s certainly far from perfection; it’s a moving, emotional journey worth supporting.
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