Music teacher Keith (Pierce) is fighting suburban suffocation. He sneaks guilty cigarettes and regretful pauses as he considers what might have been if he chased rock-stardom. His brittle wife, Megan (Ryan), disparages him with ego-smashing candour, while his adolescent daughter, Lauren (Davis), is preoccupied with peer pressure. When exchange student Sophie (Jones) arrives from the UK with a trunkful of musical talent and insight beyond her years, the cracks in the family’s ornamental upstate life threaten irreparable rupture.
Breathe In sighs desire with the restraint of a Victorian novel, letting the mise-en-scène whisper unutterable truths. Longing scuffs the edges of old photographs and sidles between the records and dreams shelved in Keith’s study, tension unravels like the chiffon bows Megan ties around her tasteful gifts. Director Drake Doremus conducts his ensemble through improvised dialogue to concordant effect, and the chemistry between Pierce and Jones is startling as a storm-blown Chopin étude. It’s a simple refrain, and familiar, but played this well it resonates like a symphony.