Danvers Mail

A Film That Examines the Depths of Addiction, Its Fallout With Family, and the Battle to Recovery

Breathing Happy


Genre: Drama
Year Released: 2022
Runtime: 1h 37m
Director(s): Shane Brady
Writer(s): Shane Brady
Cast: John D'Aquino, Augie Duke, June Carryl, Phil Esposito, Katelyn Nacon, Jim O'Heir, Aaron Moorhead, Justin Benson, Sarah Bolger
Where To Watch: streaming on Fandor now

RAVING REVIEW: BREATHING HAPPY is a thought-provoking film that captivates its viewers. Recovery films can risk being overly preachy; however, the director, Shane Brady, created a narrative that is both all over the place and entirely focused simultaneously, with a unique visual feel that leaves you in a constant state of the unknown.

Centered around Dylan, a recovering addict grappling with his first sober Christmas, BREATHING HAPPY explores substance abuse and the longing for a more carefree, less troubled time in life. Dylan faces his past, present, and future with the support of his mother and sisters. I can’t help but feel connections to Dicken’s Christmas Carol with the film's narrative, although this would be the most unique take I’ve ever seen.

The soul of this film comes from the passionate portrayals and interactions we see on screen. The movie provides a moving and authentic picture of addiction and its impact on families. The remarkable performances of the entire cast elevated the film to another level. Some moments felt jarring, mainly because the score felt off balance at times; I could have missed the intent, and it was meant to be intentional.

BREATHING HAPPY journeys Dylan's memories and inner battles with imaginative storytelling and dreamlike encounters, which bring his struggles to life on the screen. Incorporating home videos to expose the harsh repercussions of Dylan's addiction on his family, the film shows the battles families can go through while trying to help someone struggling. The gravity of addiction is never downplayed, ensuring that the film remains anchored in reality.

The film's sincerity is wrapped in a series of absurd and humorous mind-bending scenes, leaving viewers with a lasting impression. As a surreal drama, the film invites viewers on a fantastical journey through the character's past, encompassing mistakes and moments of joy, ultimately leading to a cathartic resolution. The movie's humor adds an extra dimension to the storytelling, keeping viewers engaged while still conveying profound messages at its core.

BREATHING HAPPY showcases the director's keen understanding of the complexities surrounding addiction and its impact on the person struggling with it and those caring for them. While also serving as an important reminder of the importance of support and understanding from family and friends during challenging times. The film highlights the power of love and the potential for change, even when faced with seemingly insurmountable obstacles.

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[photo courtesy of RUSTIC FILMS]