Post-apocalyptic thriller ‘Just a Breath Away’ (French title: Dans la Brume) takes to the rooftops of Paris as the film follows a family of three attempting to escape amidst the poisonous gas cloud that has blanketed the city.
The film starts with Mathieu (Roman Duris) arriving back from Canada, where he was trying to find a cure for his 11-year-old daughter’s immunodeficiency disorder. It was introduced later in the film that his wife, Anna (Olga Kurylenko), and daughter, Sarah (Fantine Harduin) live in a state-of-the-art hermetic bubble.
The film wastes no time as an earthquake hits Paris, unleashing a thick toxic gas and decimating anyone who breathes it. The earthquake had also cut Paris’ electricity supply in its wake, which meant that Sarah’s hermetic chamber now runs on a battery.
Meanwhile, Mathieu and Anna flee to their neighbour’s unit on the top
Just A Breath Away offers a fresh narrative as it mostly focuses on the problems Mathieu and his family faced instead of filming the larger picture and the chaos that ensued from the deadly gas. Coupled with Duris’ and Kurylenko’s acting skills, the characters will grow onto the viewers in the course of the film, making viewers feel more for Mathieu and Anna.
Some of the intense scenes were repetitive, like the one which showed the batteries of the hermetic chamber being changed every now and then. But it was essential in adding the right amount of suspense as it becomes more unlikely that their daughter would survive. The action scenes in the film were minimal – but perfectly-timed – especially in the presence of an unmoving, deadly gas.
The lethal gas itself was not fully explained and was labelled as an ‘unknown but natural’ occurrence. If you are expecting to receive logical explanations to the phenomenon occurring in the film, you may end up feeling sorely disappointed. While no answers will be given, the only satisfying ending you can expect is that of the main characters’ family.
Personally, I would have appreciated if Anna’s character developed more in the course of the film as it becomes apparent that she is merely a secondary character. It would have made for better emotional scenes if Anna was given a chance to develop as a primary character as well.
Although the French title ‘Dans la Brume‘ directly translates to ‘In the Fog’, I feel that the English title ‘Just A Breath Away’ is a more fitting title. It reflects the relationship between Mathieu and Sarah, showing that no matter how close they may be, they will always be a breath apart from each other.
If nothing else, the unexpected twist at the ending definitely makes the film worthwhile.
Just A Breath Away is one of the 30 French films showcased as part of the French Film Festival. In addition to the usual genres such as comedies, dramas, and animation features for children, this year’s French Film Festival includes an all-new segment for horror and thriller films. For more information, visit the official website at www.frenchfilmfestival.sg.
Visuals courtesy of French Film Festival