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BREATH – Movie Review

BREATH”, the popular novel by award-winning author, Tim Winton, has been adapted to film and it definitely delivers. Featuring authentic Australian actors and setting, the film portrays the themes of fear and masculinity in a not-so-obvious way.

Set in the 70’s, the story follows two teenage boys, Pikelet and Loonie as they become obsessed with surfing, while also growing up and finding out who they really are. A former professional surfer, Sando, takes them under his wing to mentor them, while also teaching them how to overcome and beat the challenges they face in life.

Filmed in Western Australia, the film depicts the genuine Australian landscape with skinny trees and spiky bushes, and stays true to the 1970’s hair styles, homes and fashion. With Aussie actors such as Simon Baker as Sando, you aren’t distracted by any forced accents.

The novel and film both portray the themes of fear and masculinity. Quoting the film, “There’s fear in all of us – it’s just how we deal with it”. While many may think that the story is about learning how to surf, it is much more than that. Sando pushes the boys to surf more dangerous waves and oceans, that at times has the boys hesitant and fearful to try. “Fear is only natural”, is what Sando tells the boys.  However, if they do attempt and succeed they feel powerful for doing so. A constant metaphor throughout the film for not letting fear stop you from doing what you want to do.

Regarding masculinity, it is also a prime example of men being told to “not be a wuss”. Winton himself has spoken about the story’s reference to toxic masculinity and asked the question “Can we wean men off machismo and misogyny?”. While today, the public talk about women not needing to be a certain role, the same goes for men not being required to fit a certain outline and make themselves fit into society’s definition of what is a man.

Who would think that a classic Aussie story would touch on so many serious topics, but done so in a way that touches on how we are challenged with fear and masculinity in our lives.

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