Breathe

By James Doherty | Drama
A macho father is worried that his young son is soft. So he forces him to fight.

Living amidst Ireland's community of "travellers," Patrick is a stern, harsh father, who is concerned that his son Francie is too soft, with his gentle temperament and his asthma. Though Francie boxes like his dad, he doesn't like it. But Patrick insists on toughening him up, forcing him to fight against a tougher, stronger fighter when they scrap.

When Patrick catches Francie playing with his mother's lipstick, he decides to straighten Francie out once and for all. But those efforts have a devastating consequence, forever changing the relationship between father and son.

Directed by James Doherty from a script by Theo James Krekis, this short drama is a powerful, sharply drawn portrait of a troubled father and son, in which a child falls short of a parent's expectations. That disappointment begins to poison the relationship between the two, affecting the entire ecosystem of the family and leading to a collision of cataclysmic proportions.

The film has a naturalistic, sometimes doc-like look and feel, with cinematography that captures the well-worn textures and colors of a milieu that's transient, improvised and ad-hoc. The visuals have a raw authenticity in portraying the milieu of the Traveller community, and the production itself was shot in Ireland with the help of Irish Travellers' rights groups and using talent from the local Traveller communities. But the focus of the storytelling is psychological, based more on character and relationships. As Patrick and his son clash, the interactions have a patient, perceptive eye and ear for how brutality shapes our past and present.

Patrick is a hard man and a tough father, who regards hardening his son against the vagaries of life as his primary job as a parent. The story moves forward primarily from his perspective, as he stands vigilant against signs of softness in Francie. Actor John Connors has a palpable physical presence onscreen, solid and fixed as a mountain, with a formidable, even menacing bearing. It's a difficult, almost unsympathetic role and character, but both Connors and the writing gesture to a traumatic past with Patrick's own father, as well as slight flickers of doubt.

Patrick is sometimes frankly confused by his son, played almost silently by young actor Lee O'Donaghue with a touching gentleness. Francie loves animals, plays well with his baby sibling and possesses an acute sensitivity -- one that turns into a hunted wariness around his father. When Patrick hits his breaking point with Francie, he's determined to stamp out the "softness" in Francie once and for all. But this sets off a chain of events that alter the relationship between them once and for all.

Known for their nomadic, itinerant lifestyles, Irish Travellers are a group indigenous to Ireland, with unique history, language and traditions. These include bare-knuckle boxing, which plays an important role in Traveller culture and in the identities of Traveller men. But there are other parts of Traveller legacy that Patrick wants to transmit to Francie in the last, ill-fated movement of "Breathe," and for a moment, it seems there is a hope of rapprochement between the pair. But in one moment of frustration, Patrick's inability to accept and account for his son's true nature has devastating consequences. There is some relief at the end, with immediate tragedy averted. But short, sharp shards of images hint at a quiet but all-encompassing desolation. The final shot is very brief, almost fleeting -- but the fallout will likely last a lifetime.




You Might Also Like:

Iniquity

By Oliver Goodrum | Drama
A man who bullied a disabled girl tries to escape his past. Then an angry mob finds him.

Pony

By Candice Carella | Drama
A single mother leaves her young daughter with a rock musician uncle.

Sylvia

By Richard Prendergast | Drama
A single mother takes her family on a road trip. But it's to an unwanted destination.

Second Best

By Alyssa McClelland | Comedy
Twin sisters turn into rivals when one's gymnastics career steals the spotlight.

No More Wings

By Abraham Adeyemi | Drama
2 friends meet at their favorite fried chicken shop. But their lives have diverged.

Avarya

By Gokalp Gonen | Animation
A man is trapped on a spaceship after his robot overseer finds every planet uninhabitable.

Feeling Through (Oscars)

By Doug Roland | Drama
A homeless teen meets a deaf-blind man who changes his life forever...

Ernie

By Hadley Hillel | Drama
A man's suicide attempt rips a hole in the ceiling. Then he befriends the boy upstairs.

Dig Your Own Grave

By Kirk Larsen | Comedy
A man is forced to dig his own grave in the desert. But the ground is hard.

Call Connect

By Josiah Allen and Indianna Bell | Drama
A young helpline operator takes her first call and gets more than she expected.

More Than God

By Kev Cahill | Comedy
A devoted husband suspects his wife is cheating on him. Then he hides under the bed.

Welcome to Iron Knob

By Dave Wade | Comedy
A young boy accidentally shoots a stranger and the town tries to cover it up.

CODA

By Erika Davis-Marsh | Romance
A young dancer falls for a deaf guy, then tries to find her place in the world.

Toni With an I

By Marco Alessi | Drama
An awkward girl doesn't fit in at school. Then the Internet comes to save her.

The Things You Think I'm Thinking

By Sherren Lee | Drama
A burn-survivor goes on his first date after his accident.



Your favorite short films you haven't seen yet.

Inspiring and insightful. Entertaining and enlightening.
That's what you can expect here: no fluff. Just a steady
stream of the best films delivered to your inbox.