‘Inglourious Basterds’ Star-Turned-Director Melanie Laurent Releases 2nd Feature ‘Breathe’

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You may remember her as Shosanna Dreyfus in Quentin Tarantino’s ‘Inglourious Basterds’ for which she shared the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a cast with her co-stars. She also won Best Actress from the Online Film Critics Society and the Austin Film Critics Association. In case you are waiting for her next big turn on the screen, let us give you some advice, look for her BEHIND the camera!

Yep, Melanie is part of a generation of actresses who are turning to directing, writing and producing films. But she is featured in the upcoming Angelina Jolie-directed film ‘By The Sea’ which will be released in November.

Stars such as Rose McGowan have spoken about how sick and tired they are of not seeing better representations of women on screen, that they feel no choice but to get behind the camera instead.

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French director and actress Melanie has pivoted her career in somewhat the same way and it is a much-welcome change in the global film industry which is sorely lacking the presence of complex female protagonists of all ages, and female directors.

She made her directorial debut in 2011 for the French film ‘Les Adoptes’ about a girl and her adopted sister trying to navigate through difficult family circumstances after tragedy strikes. Now Melanie is about to hit the promotional trail for her second feature film which she directed, called ‘Breathe’, based on the novel of the same name by Anne Sophie Brasme.

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Once again it features two female protagonists. We hope you are beginning to realize why we are all about promoting female directors, because they are more likely to direct, write or produce stories about women in a way that is interesting and complex.

The film stars talented newcomers Joséphine Japy and Lou De Laâge as two young girls whose all-consuming friendship takes a dark and dangerous turn. Charlie (Joséphine Japy) is seventeen and bored. Her estranged parents are too caught up in their own drama to pay much attention to her. School holds no surprises either and Charlie grows tired of her staid friends.

Enter Sarah (Lou De Laâge), a hip new transfer student who brings with her an alluring air of boldness and danger. The two girls form an instant connection. Sarah brings the excitement Charlie so desperately seeks, and Charlie is a stable influence on the wild child.

Through shared secrets, love interests and holiday getaways, their relationship deepens to levels of unspoken intimacy, which eventually leads to jealousy and unrealistic expectations, and the teens soon find themselves on a trajectory toward a jarring outcome.

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It is a rare treat to find films like this, which explore the complexities of life, love and friendship through the eyes of two teenage girls. Research shows it is important for young women to see realistic role models on screen from an early age. A San Diego State University study evaluating onscreen representations of female characters in the top 100 films of 2013 found that females comprised 15% of protagonists, 29% of major characters and 30% of all speaking characters. The figures are worse for women of color — 73% of all female characters were Caucasian, only 14% were black, 5% were Latina and 3% were Asian.

Already Melanie is getting some outstanding praise from critics for ‘Breathe’, with Variety calling it “a superbly acted portrait of an adolescent friendship” and the New York Times crediting it with “phenomenal performances”. The Hollywood Reporter called her sophomore feature “An impressive second film that features intelligent writing and several knockout performances.”

Stephanie Zacharek at the Village Voice pointed out the talent of Melanie as both and actress and director.

“Melanie Laurent is best known as an actress, but ‘Breathe’, her assured, potent second feature as a director gives us good reason to pay attention to what she’s doing behind the camera as well as in front of it,” she said.

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In a press release, Melanie talks about the reason for wanting to adapt Anne Sophie Brasme’s novel for the big screen.

“I read it when I was 17 and always knew I wanted to turn it into a movie. It blew my mind,” she said.

When asked about the reason for wanting to take up directing, her answer is simple, yet powerful.

“I only feel like myself when I direct. I always feel an empty meaningless void when shooting comes to an end because I feel like what I did mattered,” she said. It matters in more ways than one, which we have no doubt Melanie is fully aware of.

‘Breathe’ will be released in New York on September 11, and in Los Angeles 18th. There will be a national release following these dates. If you feel strongly about wanting to see more awesome female characters on screen and agree with the need for more female directors in the film industry, support movies like this!

Take a look at the trailer below to get familiar with the story of ‘Breathe’:


 

 

 

 

 

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