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Praise for Melanie Laurent’s Film Respire

Melanie Laurent has brought her film Respire here to Cannes. The Playlist’s Jessica Kiang calls this one of her most pleasant experiences at so far while simultaneously giving the film a B+ grade – really? B+ is like what, a pat on the back for a good effort. Couldn’t just fork over that extra half point to give it an A-? or, god forbid, an A? She writes:

There is a significant danger in premiering a female-led French-language adolescence tale with a lesbian slant on the Croisette the year after “Blue is the Warmest Color” won the Palme(s) in such memorable style. But it’s a danger that Melanie Laurent’s “Respire,” one of our pleasantest Cannes surprises so far, largely avoids, by establishing itself as a very different animal from the outset, if no less heartfelt and sincerely delivered, concerning itself less with evoking the joys and miseries of first love than with outlining the potentially disastrous effects of a love gone sour, curdled into a helpless kind of obsessiveness.

Providing an excellent showcase for the talents of her young, indecently photogenic cast, especially the two principal ingenues it also confirms the talent of Laurent (not so long an ex-ingenue herself) behind the camera, as she makes good on the promise of her already solid debut “The Adopted.” In fact, right up until the film’s very closing moments, in which the carefully maintained tension and tone snaps under the ratchet of one melodramatic turn too many, it is not just an absorbing performance piece, but a film of real directorial confidence and flair.