It is interesting to learn that filmmaker Jieho Lee has a fondness for the ending of Fellini's Nights of Cabiria. However, it is not so interesting to realize that he can't let go of this fondness enough to create a genuine film moment of his own. For instance, there is one significant scene in Lee's The Air I Breathe that plays so much like an homage to the final shot of Cabiria that it takes away from the actual film it is a part of. The scene involves a major character's death, so it's hard to go into detail without spoiling it for you, but I can say that recognizing the blatant tribute may cause you to feel less for that character than you should otherwise during that scene. After all, it is difficult to care about a character that comes off as simply a tool for Lee's unnecessary acknowledgment, or re-creation, of a part of a favorite film.

Maybe I just shouldn't read a film's press notes prior to watching it (I don't usually), as I might not have caught the homage without noting Lee's mention of Cabiria in his director's statement. And perhaps I wouldn't have been thinking about Lee's other influences, from The Wizard of Oz to Samuel Fuller's The Naked Kiss, and unfairly comparing The Air I Breathe to them. But it doesn't matter, because The Air I Breathe would still feel completely derivative without knowledge of the exact works that inspired Lee. To me, despite what I learned from the press notes, the film was mostly reminiscent of Inarritu's Amores Perros, and not only because of where it was filmed, how it interconnects multiple stories or the fact that it features a bank robbery, a female celebrity confined to an apartment and an obligatory car accident of some kind.
categories Reviews, Cinematical