The Edinburgh Film Festival opened on Wednesday and as usual we went to the opening gala, which this year featured the European premiere of Drake Doremus’ Breathe In.
For the last few years this and the closing gala have taken place in the impressive Festival Theatre, which is a good place to see a film; the stage is big enough to host a proper-sized cinema screen and the sound is loud enough to create a proper cinema experience. There’s also the anachronistic experience of hearing seats clunk up when people stand, which is probably quite annoying if you’re not ready for it.
The Festival director Chris Fujiwara opened proceedings by making a weird little speech. The gist of it seemed to be that a lot of people don’t take cinema seriously, because sometimes there are films that are very popular, and tonight we were going to see a film which proved that the medium could create something, er, really good. I don’t think he meant to be elitist in front of those of us in the fifteen pound seats, but it was strange he should make a distinction between the popular and the good.
Amd yes, I did say “fifteen pound seats.” The Festival could really do with a rethink of this pricing policy for the opening (and closing) galas. It’s twice the price of a normal cinema ticket and tonight’s added value was the presence of the director, female lead and composer of Breathe In, all of whom said a few words about how great it was to be in Edinburgh. Doremus even told us the last time he’d been in Edinburgh, he’d played The Old Course…
Anyhoo…it was a much better film than I expected and I enjoyed it lots. Guy Pearce plays a gifted musician with a wife and teenage daughter, who feels he is wasted teaching. The family take in a gifted student, played by Jones, who is a wonderful pianist and over the course of time…well, look at her, what do you think happens?
I’m being flippant…Doremus (who also co-wrote the script) explores the havoc that the relationship between this teacher and that pupil wreaks on the teacher’s wife and daughter with the help of great performances from Pearce and Jones and a lot of late-Terrence Malick lingering shots with meaningful focus.
Incidentally, I’ve never seen an actor appear to play an instrument as well as Jones does in this film – she clearly doesn’t, but is very believable (there are more cutaways and angled shots when Pearce is playing the cello, but he’s pretty good too.)
It will probably get a big release and be popular with Peter Bradshaw, but not Cosmo Landesman. Which is good.