The Air I Breathe

Year: 2007
Production Co: NALA Films
Director: Jieho Lee
Writer: Jieho Lee
Cast: Brendan Fraser, Forest Whitaker, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Kevin Bacon, Andy Garcia, Emile Hirsch, Julie Delpy, Kelly Hu
I'll bet you've heard of Paul Haggis' Crash but never heard of this tiny film that hardly made a dent.

In a parallel (and more just) universe, Haggis' self-indulgent version of the same idea did okay, and this much better, beautiful film made a mint and won all the Oscars.

No, there's not much to be done with the colliding-lives subgenre we haven't seen before, so all we have to go on is how heartfelt it is. And where Haggis' rendition was grittier, ballsier and more masculine, this effort by unknown director Lee is more beautiful and lyrical.

Breaking the saga of the interconnected lives into the four phases of life according to a Chinese proverb (happiness, pleasure, sorrow, love), it introduces whimsical plot devices such as the butterfly motif and deftly winds the story of an unhappy businessmen (Whitaker), hitman (Fraser), pop star (Gellar), doctor (Bacon) and the people around them together and it's all believable.

Where so many movies fail, this one delves right into the character's motivations and makes the quiet, personal desires of a small group of people the story, more profound and earth-shattering than any number of attack helicopters, car chases or gun battles.

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