Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
Original title: Respire
Charlene is a good student who keeps her mind on her studies despite a difficult home life with her depressed mother () and a father who only shows up long enough to disappoint them both. A new girl named Sarah comes to her school and is the picture of cool, her husky voice, rebellious but not immoral attitude and smoking habit enough to make her a rock star to Charlene, who is quickly smitten. The two become the best of friends, spending all their free time together and, in the film’s most pleasant sequence, enjoying a family trip camping in the woods, before things start to take a turn: familiarity breeds contempt and too much time together creates friction, which inspires Charlene to look into Sarah’s backstory and, when she discovers her dark family secret, it sets a very tense drama in motion. Charismatic and engaging throughout, Melanie Laurent’s second directorial feature is an original take on a familiar tale, capturing the friendly but tense intimacy between these young women before exploring the very subtle machinations that drive them apart. The melodrama of the film’s final moments feels a bit overdone, it would have been a fascinating examination of homosocial relationships without it, but there’s also a visceral pleasure in seeing repressed emotions finally find their due release.