"Breathing" is the inspiring story of a young man who must find resolution with his past in order to take the next step into his adult life. Abandoned by his mother as a young child, Roman Kogler (Thomas Schubert), now 19 years old, is serving time in a juvenile detention centre in Vienna. When threatened with a life behind bars unless he finds probation work, he takes an unexpected job that slowly encourages him to adjust to the outside world. Whilst at work he makes a startling discovery that triggers him to track down his mother and address the unanswered questions surrounding his childhood. Confronting his past enables Roman to finally come up for air and start the next chapter of his life.
Austria’s entry to next year’s Academy Awards comes from actor turned director Karl Markovics and tells the story of a young man on parole for murder who takes an unusual job through the State’s day release programme; which opens up a new avenue for reflection and penance that his years in prison never could.
Starring new-comer Thomas Schubert Breathing is a slow and fluid movie in which Roman (Schubert) finally paroled after serving a murder sentence takes a job in a mortuary looking after and transporting corpses. The irony of working so closely with the dead is not lost on Roman and entirely without meaning to he finds himself using the solitude of the morgue to explore his past and contemplate the crimes he has committed.
Breathing is an exceptionally poignant movie; yet its drama and emotion are dealt with such a delicate and unobtrusive hand that it would be easy for the most important moments to slip right past a less-than-sensitive viewer. A particularly impressive moment comes when Roman meets with his biological mother, Margit, who gave him up for adoption years earlier and upon returning into his life explains to him in a straight forward and almost cold fashion the reasons behind her decision. Where a Hollywood movie would book end this scene with tears and screams of anger Breathing simply opens the issue wide; only offering a little information and playing out in an incredibly realistic fashion; making the whole thing far more painful to watch.
This debut shows Markovic’s already incredible talent for story telling, Breathing offers audiences an expansively emotional movie that uses character and script in a sparse yet creative manner; whilst the performances, particularly that of Roman who carries the majority of the movie, are honest and strong. Though this movie may not have you in fits of tears, it is likely to leave you with a lump in your throat that will take some time to swallow.