Love can be so destructive. Breathe In, opening today at the Uptown Birmingham 8, directed and co-written by Drake Doremus (Spooner 2009 and Like Crazy 2011) is typically, for him, an intimate portrait of emotions. Keith Reynolds (Guy Pearce) is by day a music teacher but at night and weekends an aspiring cellist. But unfortunately he's living in a stale marriage with Megan (Amy Ryan) and one daughter Lauren (Mackenzie Davis), who is about to leave home. Then, during the final school semester, the family takes in a British exchange student, Sophie (Felicity Jones), a beautiful and cerebral young woman. Sophie develops a crush on Keith and the feeling is mutual, especially after she gives an extraordinary performance of Chopin after being coaxed to play something in front of his music class. But dreamy eyed Sophie is also deep minded. Keith asks why with such talent she doesn’t play more. “I want to choose to play not do it because I can,” she responds. Sophie tells him she doesn’t want to live a life “where I’m not choosing” and asks if he’s trapped in his. “One day you’ll be free,” she offers as solace. She then performs a piece for him and while they’re at the piano they touch hands. Megan and Lauren abruptly come home and Keith and Sophie part quickly. Suspicions arise when Lauren sees Sophie’s shadow beneath the bathroom door and Megan discovers four empty beer bottles in the trash. At school, Sophie is quickly labelled a “slut” after a rumour of having slept with classmate Aaron (Matthew Daddario), who’d had a fling with Lauren, even though Sophie had rejected Aaron’s advances. But Lauren happens upon a scene of Sophie and her dad romantically engaged. She confronts Sophie at night in her bedroom. Sophie and Keith decide to make plans to run away. They agree to meet that night after his concert performance. While this story of an everyday affair has been told a million times there’s always fascination in the retelling, especially when the director – as per his technique of repeated takes to constantly wring out the least that is true - creates a story this emotionally taut. But more than simply about romance Breathe In strikes an introspective chord by questioning what it means to be free, whether one’s trapped in a played-out marriage or not.