The Movie Waffler New Release Review [Sky Cinema] - EVERY BREATH YOU TAKE | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review [Sky Cinema] - EVERY BREATH YOU TAKE

every breath you take review
A psychiatrist's family is targeted by the vengeful brother of a patient who committed suicide.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Vaughn Stein

Starring: Casey Affleck, Sam Claflin, Michelle Monaghan, Inid Eisley, Veronica Ferres

every breath you take poster

Along with Manchester by the Sea and The World to Come, director Vaughn Stein's old school psycho thriller Every Breath You Take completes a trilogy of movies in which Casey Affleck plays a father grieving for a lost child. In a prologue we see his wife, Grace (Michelle Monaghan), get into a car accident that claims the life of their young son. In what feels like a nod to arguably the greatest ever movie about losing a child, Nanni Moretti's The Son's Room, Affleck's character, Philip, is a psychiatrist. He even sports a beard and tasteful pullovers like Moretti, and just like Moretti's shrink, he hides away from his own psychological problems by treating his patients while refusing to have any meaningful conversations with Grace.

every breath you take review

Philip oversteps ethical boundaries with one patient, a pretty young woman in an abusive relationship, by sharing his own grief with her. This doesn't stop her from committing suicide however. Listed as her doctor, Philip is called to the scene of her death, where he meets her brother, James (Sam Claflin), recently arrived from England. When James later turns up at Philip's home to return a book he had lent to his late sister, Grace invites him in for dinner. So begins James' campaign of ingratiating himself into Philip's family, and soon he's dating his teenage daughter Lucy (India Eisley) and enjoying afternoon romps with Grace. When the faculty where Philip is employed as a lecturer begins receiving anonymous letters complaining about Philip's professional behaviour, he begins to suspect James of seeking revenge for his sister's death.

Every Breath You Take owes much to the thrillers of the '90s. It's even set in the Pacific Northwest, rivaled only by San Francisco as the most popular setting for such movies. This gives it a rainswept, overcast aesthetic that seems like an externalising of the grief consuming Philip and Grace. Inflicting such a toll on its protagonists is an odd choice by screenwriter David Murray. It's likely there to give more depth to the proceedings, but it all feels a little heavy for what is essentially a run of the mill thriller in the Cape Fear mould. Stein visualises Philip and Grace's grief with shots of the former watching hockey matches that his boy might have played in, while Grace indulges in that worn out trope of a troubled woman submerging herself in water, be it a bath or the luxurious swimming pool that adjoins the family's plush, modernist home.

every breath you take review

Claflin's James is clearly a cad, and likely has a few loose screws, but Affleck's Philip is so hard to warm to that it's difficult to feel much sympathy when he ends up being cucked as both a husband and father by this handsome stranger. Affleck's performance here almost feels like a parody of the mopey shtick he's become known for recently, while Claflin oozes creepy charisma (wouldn't he make a good James Bond?). A more interesting version of this movie might have gone full Pasolini's Teorema and had Philip himself also seduced by James, but this is a movie that plays its thrills straight in every sense of the word.

There's a point where Philip issues some advice along the lines of "If you love someone you need to make them feel it." It's advice ignored by Stein and Russell, as their film rarely makes us feel much of anything. Instead it relies on cheaply written scenes in which Philip twigs what's going on and verbally expresses his suspicions to whoever happens to be in the room at the time. The movie's climax is so haphazard and rushed, it feels as though the scriptwriter reached an allotted word count and needed to wrap things up as quickly as possible.

every breath you take review

For all its flaws, there's something of a nostalgic novelty factor to Every Breath You Take. It's so rare to see stars of the calibre of Affleck and Claflin working in the thriller genre, which has now been largely relegated to the Lifetime Network, that the movie keeps you amused to a degree simply because it's a reminder of a time when Hollywood made genre movies for adults. But nostalgia only gets you so far, and as the predictable plot unspools you'll likely be reminded that with a few exceptions, those '90s thrillers simply weren't very good.

Every Breath You Take
 is on Sky Cinema from July 23rd.

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