There is an “ancient” Chinese proverb that claims the four pillars of life are happiness, pleasure, sorrow, and love.  Director Jieho Lee attempted to bring those emotions to life with the lives of three people, Forest Whitaker (Happiness), Sarah Michelle Gellar (Sorrow), and Kevin Bacon (Love), who were all touched by or involved with Brendan Fraser (Pleasure) and his employer, Andy Garcia (Fingers) (whom I like to call Rage).

The Air I Breathe is a drama in which these talented actors portray people of diverse backgrounds whose paths  intersect in profound ways as they struggle to take control of their lives. 

The movie opens with Forest Whitaker as Happiness.  Happiness is, in all actuality, incredibly lonely and terribly sad (and apparently has OCD).  Trapped by his own timidity and social conformity, an impulsive act plunges him into the underground gambling world run by Fingers.  Suddenly, in a final act of supreme desperation (and motivated by extreme fear), Happiness is liberated.  He is finally free and momentarily happy.

The story of Happiness ends abruptly and we continue on with Brendan Fraser (Pleasure), a crime enforcer who can see the future.  Pleasure is surprisingly dis-empowered by this ability.  Instead, Pleasure feels helpless by what he knows will happen, powerless to change it, trapped by the inevitability of what comes next.

That is until he meets Sorrow, a rising pop star whose contract is given to Fingers (by her ethically bankrupt Manager) to pay off a debt.  It is then that he realizes the pleasure of not being able to see his own future.  Moreover, Sorrow shares a similar childhood trauma and finally they both have someone to connect with/relate to: each other.  Inspired and emboldened by one another, they take the biggest chance of their lives, and there are consequences for it. 

Finally, Kevin Bacon portrays Love (an ER doctor who worked on Pleasure earlier in the movie) who has to save the life of the woman he has been coveting.  So as to not spoil the ending, I will not reveal anything else about which emotion becomes involved in Love’s attempts to save her or how this may be connected to Happiness.

Instead I will leave you with this:  Happiness, Sorrow, Love, and Pleasure are all connected.  Rage tries to influence all of them and has the power to ruin their lives—sometimes succeeding.  Whatever “emotion” you think applies to your life, the reality is this:  you choose how you are living your life and every moment of every day is a chance to change how you are going to live it.  The Air I Breathe goes about this in a roundabout way, but it finally gets you there.  

I will warn you, it is a dark movie, so if you are looking for something light, this is not the movie for you.  But if you want a movie that will make you think, The Air I Breathe will definitely do that.

You can get you own copy from Amazon.

Carissa Picard is a freelance writer working as a political correspondent for Military.com.  She is also the President of Military Spouses for Change and Editor of Military Spouse Press.

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