Breathe: Mélanie Laurent’s film is not an easy sit; there’s always some sense of discomfort, of dread, present. The credible story of an abusive friendship lends itself well to it, and this drama is very effective in creating that mood. It all starts with spot-on casting for the two protagonists: Joséphine Japy has a more serene beauty, while Lou de Laâge is more exuberant. Their acting is even better, respectively as the wallflower and the charismatic, manipulative teenager; the characters, and the performances, have quite a lot going on beyond what this first glance suggests. They are quiet but very expressive. Laurent and director of photography Arnaud Potier go for a handheld style that matches the story and the mood, for once, as it allows for some intimacy with the protagonists, to see from up close what they are going through.