By midlandsmovies, Sep 10 2019 09:25AM
Midlands Review - Keep Breathing
Directed by Mark Corden
Keep Breathing is a new independent short film exploring the consequences of a drunken night spent together between a man and a woman, highlighting the complications and emotional aftermath from a night of questionable sexual congress.
Director Mark Corden starts the film after the event, we see a man (Damien Molony) attempting to fix a broken lift inside an office building. Meanwhile we are also introduced to a woman (Emmeline Hartley) who is busy working away at her desk in the same building. As the man finally mends the lift to make his way down to the reception area, we see the woman finishing work rushing to catch the lift, which is kindly held so she can enter.
They glance up instantly recognising each other, and after a moment passes the lift breaks down again and with the power off they are now trapped together. The man radios his colleague for assistance but this will take a few minutes.
What follows in the short is an awkward, dry exchange which he mistakes for flirting. They discuss their first meet and how much of a fun time he had, however the woman balks - she is uncomfortable with both his advances and the claustrophobic setting.
To calm her down he tells her to “keep breathing” and goes to comfort her, his contact catapults the audience into her memory of the night they met.
The grey, airless setting is then replaced with a colourful, vibrant club atmosphere. Our protagonists meet at the bar, their eyes fixated on one another. A fun night of dancing, drinking and flirting ensues ending with a kiss and an exit to the nearest taxi. Corden and editor Drew Davis move skilfully within the film, briskly switching from their night out to the tense elevator where our main characters break down that evening’s events.
Stumbling out of the taxi and into her flat, the viewer can start to tragically see where this night is heading. The next few minutes make for an uneasy watch as Corden isn't afraid of showing those dark, tough moments as the woman is pressured into sleeping with this man. Molony and Hartley give great performances throughout Keep Breathing but it's here where they showcase their talent, turning their irresistible chemistry we had seen minutes before into something more alarming and daunting.
An impressive element within the film is its ability to ground itself within most of the audience’s experiences with life. The main characters are unnamed, they could represent all of us at any time. And not too many people can say they haven't had too much to drink in a club and clambered into a taxi with someone they've just met. Making Keep Breathing universally familiar will no doubt resonate massively with the audience, a huge achievement for the film.
Written by Corden, Hartley and Tommy Draper, their words manage to capture a real issue that has been ongoing for decades but seems more relevant now than ever. Bringing the world to life on screen is cinematographer Beatriz Delgado Mena who gives it that sought after cinematic shine, making it a film that looks at home on the big screen. I enjoyed noticing certain behaviours which were explored and magnified. The unnecessary contact with someone or invading one’s personal space – these small moments haven't been often captured on a short film I’ve seen before.
However, Corden, along with his collaborators, keeps the film in a neutral space. He seems to want to educate and listen rather than lecture and sermonize. Both characters’ reactions are up for discussion which will undoubtedly create much needed debate amongst the audience. Surprisingly Keep Breathing isn't a clear black and white, it is a grey, subtle study of consent in the modern world and how if ignored can have a vast, prolonged impact on the parties involved.
Breath-taking, tense, topical, Keep Breathing is the best short film I've seen for years, it sets a benchmark for how strong and culturally relevant modern filmmaking can be. Watch it, question it, watch it again with friends & family. This film demands to be seen.
Future screenings of Keep Breathing to look out for.
Underwire Festival ‘Boundaries’ programme:
Weds 18th September 6:45pm
The Castle Cinema (Tickets available on sale on their website)
BFI London Film Festival ‘In An Age of Consent’ programme:
4th Oct, 20:40 Odeon (Tottenham Court Road)
6th Oct, 12:20 Cine Lumiere
Tickets for London Film Festival go on sale on 12th September.
For more info, follow the official Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages @kbshortfilm