Breathe In

Director Drake Doremus once again casts Felicity Jones as an exchange student from England, romancing an American in a thwarted love story. And why not? The formula worked very well in Doremus’ 2011 feature Like Crazy. This time, the American is played by Guy Pearce, as the patriarch of the student’s host family, whose lush suburban order the romance understandably disrupts. He’s a cellist and a music teacher; she’s a promising young pianist. A rainstorm, a ride home, a power outage — you know how these things go. So do the actors, who reportedly worked from a scenario rather than a full script, as entrusted to them by Doremus and his writing partner Ben York Jones. The result is consequently sketch-like, and a less successful example of pretty indie impressionism than Doremus’ earlier effort. It does also have Amy Ryan, always great, in a thankless role as the cellist’s wife, and Mackenzie Davis, promising, as their daughter. It has atmospheric cinematography and the sober aura that any movie featuring classical musicians apparently requires. And maybe because the rights to actual classical music started getting too expensive (there is some), it has a score by Dustin O’Halloran, who fuses conservatory-style piano instrumentalism and hipster indie rock into bland soundtrack sap. All told, the romantic disruption is minor, even if trumped up into melodrama by a climactic montage full of clichés. It does everything it should, except take your breath away.