Julian Lass

The Air that I Breathe (2007)

Director Jieho Lee.

First, it’s about not being able to control the future when you think you can. Brendan Fraser’s character can see the future but cannot see his own death.

Second, it’s about how a popular singer (Sarah Michelle Gellar) is controlled and belittled by both media and by men. In her case, a violent gangster played by Andy Garcia. Like Kafka’s Josephine the Mouse, the singer thinks people admire her because she is an artist, but in reality she is an artist only because people treat her as such. The gangster knows this – and representing the true face of violent capitalism, exploits her narcissism through fetishization.

But mostly, it’s about freedom. Everybody in the film from the bored investment banker (Forest Whitaker), the gangland boss (Andy Garcia), his henchman (Brendan Fraser), the doctor (Kevin Bacon), the woman bitten by a snake (Julie Delpy) and the singer is trapped in a system that is killing them but from which they long to be free. In the end, only two of them manage to break free, but there’s a cost. The standard self-enclosed linear narrative is subverted, unresolved.