Perhaps choosing the wrong outlet of media, Breathless is a stagnant, claustrophobic look at the criminal in us all.
Whenever a couple has its' share of issues, they go through a list of options: Couples therapy, divorce consel, maybe even a trial seperation. However, Lorna (Gina Gershon) is a woman of simple taste. A chair, some rope and and a handgun are all she needs to make things right in her life.
Beliving her husband, Dale (a run down Val Kilmer), is the mastermind behind the Great Red County Robbery, Lorna calls her best friend, Tiny (Kelli Giddish of Law & Order: SVU), to come over and help her find out where the money is. Dale refuses to spill any details about what he has done, forcing Lorna to lose her cool and shoot him dead in their trailer home. Things get worse as Sherrif Cooley (Ray Liotta) snoops around Lorna's trailer, suspecting Dale as the criminal he's proven himself to be. With no way to leave her home, Lorna convinces Tiny to help her find their way out of their predicament, in return for half of the money Dale stole earlier that day. Problem is they have to find the money first. But whenever money is involved, you can bet not everything is what it seems.
While watching Breathless, it's obvious to see that Director Jesse Baget tried his best to weave his own story to match with Fargo or Raising Arizona; A cultural look at crime with bite. In ways, Baget succeeds. The cause and effect patterns of Lorna and Tiny are filled with enough humor and intrique that keeps interest fairly high throughout. In fact, the relationship between the two female leads is what keeps Breathless afloat. Sadly, too much weight bears down on the film than character chemistry could help fix.
Lorna and Tiny spend the majority of the film discussing what to do with money, blood, robberies and a dead body. Their discussions actually mimic exact conversation formulas from CSI, Law & Order and NCIS. The script reads pretty well but was casted horribly for the wrong characters. Especially for two women who think $10,000 is "more money than we thought was in all of Texas". Inconsistency is key here.
Breathless also feels a bit claustrophobic. Baget's film reads, feels and plays out like a broadway play: One setting, 4 characters, no flashbacks. To put it simply, Breathless wasn't designed for cinema. These characters are designed for laughter or some sort of audience reaction backing up their actions. Putting Lorna and Tiny on screen as opposed to a stage just renders them pointless and without direction. At best, Breathless should be a light run on a major Broadway theater in New York. This is where these characters and this story belongs.
Finally, the events in Breathless play out like a sloppy Q&A session with audiences after a first draft. Some of the twists throughout the story are seen from a mile away due to a messy set up. The majority, however, are shocking only because they make no sense at all. Backstabs, murders and unlikely alliances muddle up the story of Breathless and put the interest of the viewer at high risk. Sure, it's a twist but at what cost? No real payoff causes many people to regret their devotion to the previous story. Obviously, this isn't the final emotion you want your audience feeling with your film.
Minus a great chemistry between Gershon and Giddish, Breathless strives for cult status but falls short as a reaction from messy character arches and senseless twists. In a perfect world, Breathless will be ptiched in a year or two as a two-act play on Broadway and gain appreciation through it's new medium. Until then, the film isn't so much Breathless as it is senseless.