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  • Writer's pictureMatt Conway

Every Breath You Take: Review

Every Breath You Take Synopsis: A psychiatrist (Casey Affleck), whose client commits suicide, finds his family life disrupted after introducing her surviving brother (Sam Claflin) to his wife (Michelle Monaghan) and daughter (India Eisley).

While in no relation to the iconic Police song, Vaughn Stein’s new domestic thriller Every Breath You Take adopts similarly foreboding connotations (carefully listen to that song again). Personally, I have a soft spot for the soap opera-esque melodrama featured in domestic thrillers of this elk. At its best, the subgenre exhibits its own form of preposterous entertainment that’s sorely lacking on the big-screen today.

Even with my personal attachment, Stein’s wayward effort captures none of the genre’s vibrant allures. For a film that vies to be a compelling psychological thriller, Every Breath You Take sinks from its distinct lack of psychology and logic. This by-the-numbers effort is likely to be forgotten amongst a wave of similarly disposable thrillers.

No one involved seems to be all that invested. The star-studded cast solemnly mulls their way through blandly-formed roles, with neither Casey Affleck nor Michelle Monaghan imbuing their usual strengths onscreen (when Affleck doesn’t have substance to work with, his insular delivery looks more like sleepwalking). I do credit Sam Claflin for injecting a semblance of energy as the charismatic yet unhinged antagonist, but his performance still can’t mask the character’s banal design.

I can’t blame the cast for going through the motions considering the film’s beige delivery. Three films into his upstart career, Stein has struggled to implement much presence into his cookie-cutter efforts (Terminal and Inheritance are similarly flavorless despite the talent involved). His flat imagery only works to muck up the picture, while Stein lacks the attentive hand to escalate tension. It doesn’t help that Stein is stuck with a thanklessly generic screenplay, with David Murray’s effort acting like an unfocused hodgepodge of far superior films (take your pick between far superior domestic thrillers like Basic Instinct or David Fincher’s tense 90’s thrillers).

Somehow the predictability isn’t even the film’s biggest problem. Every Breath You Take possesses a serious identity crisis. The self-seriousness prevents any sort of guilty pleasure engagement, while the script’s simple-minded approach does little of note with its volatile subject matter. Also, how many times must a mentally ill character serve as a villain without any dimension or humanity? It’s become such a tired trope, one that reduces people’s genuine struggles into an empty veneer of craziness (the film has such little care for its characters, ending amidst the climactic conflict without any resolutions).

I’m glad I am writing this review fresh off watching it, as Every Breath You Take does little to elicit interest. Even if you’re a fan of domestic thrillers, I suggest checking out Fatale instead (or even Fatal Affair, which has its own goofy appeals despite my initially negative review).

Every Breath You Take is now available on VOD.


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