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The Air I Breathe

A stifled film school exercise in search of a movie. If only Jieho Lee hadn't felt the need to pack every film he ever wanted to make into his debut 90-minute reel.

"Is it just the muted feeling of watching a movie when you know how it ends?" intones Brendan Fraser, in a voice-over no less, as the psychic hired gun who loses his powers of intuition in a back alley chase sequence. If only it really could end there. "Did you know that scars are the road map to the soul?," Sarah Michelle Gellar, in Britney-clone mode, later professes to Fraser, as if she were imparting Kierkegaardian insight. Confused yet? Then you're only halfway there. This sub-Altman - nay, sub-Haggis, so far are we from any semblance of plot sensitivity here - muddled mosaic of an LA story attempts to be a grand narrative on love, death and everything in between, but instead collapses into a caricature of the voguish ensemble drama. Top-drawer talent (Julie Delpy, Emile Hirsch, Forest Whitaker) and B-listers (Fraser, Gellar, Andy Garcia) alike are suffocated by the surfeit of neo-noir tics, hyperactive camera zooms and miserable, faux-existential platitudes. Hirsch is a firecracker as the mob boss Garcia's swaggering nephew, the only real spark in a stifled film school exercise in search of a movie. If only the director Jieho Lee hadn't felt the need to pack every film he ever wanted to make into his debut 90-minute reel. afeshareki@thenational.ae

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