Inhale (2010)

Inhale leaves too much time to breathe.


Inhale (2010) is another tepid melodrama that strains for action and longs for suspense but never quite escapes mediocrity.  The story feels unnecessarily uptight, especially across the back and shoulders, a thin veneer of a docudrama stretched over the promise of an American thriller.  Loaded scenarios and convenient, plot-centric traipsing clutter the fractured narrative, spring boarding from present to the past and back again.  Part morality lesson, part cautionary tale, we’re inevitably thigh-high in the mud of another crime drama medical procedural that’s far too reminiscent of prime time television for its own good.  Such pairings do little to balance facts for facts sake, or proper fiction to enliven the otherwise emotionally adolescent, thin boned characters.

Modish and exceedingly distracted, the fluffy clouds of modern suburbia beat a straight line to the sinister-flavored underbelly of a dangerous Mexico where mendacity and stagy circumstances abound; like paint by numbers, not quite original but with just enough outside the lines to give the impression of made up like a Thomas Kincade painting.  Dermot Mulroney is dapper Paul Stanton, a self-assured up-and-coming District Attorney who heads to Mexico to find a cure for his daughter – we learn straight away that her days are numbered and his only shot at saving her is a suspicious doctor who promises a double lung transplant at a discount.  The trouble with his plan is immediate – dark alleys lead to repeated poundings and robberies; he narrowly escapes death every five minutes and just when things look like they’re turning up, he discovers the cure rests with a group of ex-patriot American physicians who kill their patients and sell their organs to the highest bidder.

Icelandic actor, theater and film director, and film producer Baltasar Kormakur is best known for films you’ve most likely never heard of.  Some are perhaps more familiar in the aisles of the local rental place or in a long list of ‘newly available rentals’ at Netflix or some other such place.  Kormakur’s $12 million dollar psychological thriller A Little Trip to Heaven (2005) – starring Julia Stiles (Bourne franchise, Mona Lisa Smile) and Forest Whitaker (The King of Scotland, Repo Men) was a straight to DVD release, though it is difficult to say whether that was a matter of distribution or Kormakur’s inability to captivate American audiences.  If you’re in Iceland this year or next, you can catch his $2 million dollar drama Djúpið (2011) – or maybe you’d prefer to wait for his $32 million dollar American endeavor Contraband starring Mark Wahlberg, Kate Beckinsale, Ben Foster and Giovanni Ribisi, among others; about a security guard with financial difficulty who considers a revisit to his more lucrative and illegal ways when someone nearby offers him a deal he can’t refuse.

Inhale is the anesthetized newspaper headline of someone else’s kid in some other town, a passing thought on the way to the sports page, and the last thing you want to think about at the theater or in your living room for your excursion from everyday.  Good will teachings about human failures and the triumph of the will to overcome crummy are generally opposing principles at either end of a stadium filled with people doing their best to look the other way.  While the subject of organ trafficking is an interesting crossroads with built-in danger at every turn and questionable characters looming, it’s not exactly unfamiliar territory. Stephen Frears explored the subject in his film Dirty Pretty Things (1992) and Damian Lee made the trip in The Donor (1995) and David Marconi’s The Harvest (1992).  I suppose it’s worth revisiting in light of the last decade or so of fascination with the macabre and all things death, torture and mayhem. There is an uneasy sense of intrigue about mortality for sale, trading body parts for dollars and South of the border operations that fills seats and sells popcorn; I think average folks find something tantalizing about the inky-dark corners of pretend underworlds where everything you can imagine has real world price tags.  But these places don’t really exist in the everyday street level view of the world, not really.

Perhaps it would have been easier if Mulroney’s cracker jack District Attorney wasn’t so blasé; I suppose tenacity counts for something yet it doesn’t make his performance any more impressionable.  Wife, Diane (Diane Kruger) is no help in this regard, hardly more vested than a table lamp with a nice shade, little more than a plot Popsicle with a convincing smile.  Sam Shepard and Rosanna Arquette make an appearance but their characters are essentially one-trick ponies, emotionally constipated and purposeless except to plot.  Vincent Perez is about as convincing as his portrayal of the undead superhero in the movie the Crow – a passing story, forgettable characters and a fading aftertaste like diet soda.


About rorydean

Rory Dean is a multi-medium artist, writer and new media strategist with a background as a creative consultant and technology liaison in the San Francisco Bay Area. His broad experiences and specialties include print-to-web publicity, promotions and design marketing using traditional and social media networks. As a motion pictures and television professional, his short films, productions and commercials have screened to domestic and international audiences. His connections to a diverse client base include artists, entertainers, corporations, non-profits and everyday people.. Dean is co-owner and founder of Dissave Pictures, a boutique production company focusing on audio, video, photography and multi-media designs. Dean's personal and professional background includes dreaming and avid notebook journaling, creative and copy writing, promotions and marketing, audio/video production, photography, videography, editing, web design and new media. He’s also a fan of collaboration and knows when to turn the reigns over, offer feedback, lead the team and step aside. His portfolio includes print, online, film, video, photography, graphic design and promotions. He’ll show you. He has a book and everything. "When not juggling various online worlds, I do a pretty good mime – but that’s another story."
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4 Responses to Inhale (2010)

  1. What a cast.

    What a waste….

    Another top class analysis, Rory.

    • rorydean says:

      Thanks for the props Rodney — And I didn’t even get into Rosanna Arquette and Sam Shepard. How is it possible to have such talent and not employ them? In this case it wouldn’t save the film but it would have at least been a little less insulting to the senses (just a little).

  2. mj says:

    it sounds like you’re not a fan of this movie, then again you have an awful lot of reviews where you don’t like the movie or the filmmaker. What gives? Why waste so much time on movies you don’t like if at all? Your reviews are windy, frequently wordy and often you start with an opinion that requires a lot of words to arrive at a conclusion. Maybe you should write fiction.

    • rorydean says:

      I admit I attacked this film but it was only that I really felt there was so much more going on here than came through the film. I’ve written about this elsewhere but I’ll make the point here as well – The opportunity to learn from movies can be had at either end of the spectrum, good films reinforce a certain inalienable connection with the rest of the world while bad films reinforce the fact that there is no recipe in filmmaking and as a result films can and do go wrong but rather than complain for the sake of complaining we are given an opportunity to recognize what it was about the film that failed and dissatisfied. Coming to an understanding of what doesn’t work enables us to appreciate our favorite films in an entirely different way. The more we know the more we know why we know and consequently how our individual experiences inform our cinematic ones.

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