“Breath,” directed by “The Mentalist” star Simon Baker in his helming debut, is a coming-of-age tale about two boys who learn about life and love through surfing is specific in its subject but universal in its themes.
Bruce and Ivan, a.k.a. Pikelet and Loonie (Samson Coulter and Ben Spence) are teenagers growing up in remote 1970s western Australian. Desperate for adventure they form an unlikely friendship with Sando (Baker), a former surfing star who now mentors young athletes. Sando is spiritual surfer who not only teaches the kids about how to glide across the water but also how to live their lives. Their idyllic life lessons are threatened when Pikelet has a brief affair with Sando’s wife, Eva (Elizabeth Debicki).
“Breath” is an enjoyably but languidly paced film that captures the slower pace of life in 1970s Australia. Baker displays a connection to the material, allowing the story to play out in its own time. The affair subplot dips into melodrama but the rest of the film is an evocative portrait of the time and place.
On a technical note, the cinematography—credited to “water cinematographer” Rick Rifici—adds much visual flair to the storytelling.