We have all made mistakes in life and we have all learned how difficult to get over them. In “Breathing”, Roman Kolger (Thomas Schubert), a 19 year old, is in a youth detention center and he seeks relief and release from his fate by working day-release jobs. He takes a job at the Vienna, Austria city morgue but the people he works with are overbearing and the job is strange for him. Roman is a quiet and withdrawn guy but he slowly finds his way back into the real world. When he sees a female corpse with the same last name as his, he decides to go and look for his mother who had abandoned him to state welfare when he was just an infant. He feels that finding his mother would let him better understand who he is and enable to move past the guilt that he has had since his incarceration.
Schubert as Roman gives an unforgettable performance and he is non-professional and in fact was chosen from street casting. His role won him the best actor prize at the Sarajevo Film Festival.
Karl Markovics directed this film and we feel his hand throughout. “Breathing” is a touching and believable movie about life and death and gives us a true picture of Austria. The film is basically about a young man who has not had the best life and how he copes. It subtly deals with emotional dysfunction and because of that we feel alienated from all of the characters. Once we understand why Roman is so angry about everything, we begin to understand him but he still keeps us at an arm’s distance
This is a movie about guilt, dreams, redemption and ultimately hopes. While we may not like Roman, we are not alone as nobody else seems to like him either. He doesn’t like himself. He suffers from inner demons and he has committed some unspeakable crime. “His only ally is the probation officer who is helping him to find a job that will convince a parole board that Roman is worthy to be released back into the community. Through the course of the movie we learn that he is a boy who has been dealt a bad hand in life. Brought up in care, he has been a lost soul who made a tragic mistake that caused him to spend his teenage years in detention. A job in the city morgue proves to be the turning point in the movie, and in his life. This job is the symbol of his eventual redemption. As his prison peers turn away from him in disgust at his choice of job, his equally wary co-workers, initially skeptical at having a convicted criminal in their midst, soon become accepting of the boy, and eventually encourage him to develop in his new role. A stroke of fate during a call-out one day, leads Roman down a path of self-discovery, which will help him to understand why he became the person he now is, and allows the audience to explore the damaged relationship, which needs to be repaired before the boy can address his inner demons and move on with his life. This is stark, often graphic, but never dull” and in fact by the end of the film our opinion of Roman begins to change. “As he understands what has brought him to this point in his life, he begins to like himself more. He exhibits an inner strength and confidence that belies his young years. You can be sure he will make a success of himself, in spite of the bad start” that he was given in life.
- Posted in: Film