A family is traumatised by the tragic death of a child in Vaughn Stein’s Every Breath You Take.
Philip (Casey Affleck) is a psychiatrist and lecturer, his wife Grace (Michelle Monaghan) a real estate agent. They have a young son, Evan (Brenden Sunderland) and he has a senior school age daughter, Lucy (India Eisley) – Grace’s stepdaughter – who lives with them. On the way to hockey practice, with only Grace and Evan in the car, a much larger vehicle crashes into them. Evan dies.
Three years on and that incident has taken a heavy toll on all of them. Philip and Grace haven’t been able to deal with their grief and anger. He has all but shut down. Lucy has just been kicked out of a private school for cocaine use. She barely communicates with her father and has little to say to her stepmother. Philip has been treating a patient, Daphne (Emily Alyn Lind), who – along with her family – have had a tragic past. But by sharing his own trauma with her, Philip makes a remarkable breakthrough.
Daphne is off her meds altogether and at age 22 appears to have gotten her life together. But then tragedy strikes. Through that, Philip gets to meet Daphne’s brother James (Sam Claflin), an author who has just returned from the UK. Their lives and that of Philip’s family become intertwined with disastrous consequences.
Every Breath You Take is a psychological thriller with a strong cast and breathtaking scenery. But it loses its way. Unfortunately, by the end it becomes no more than an old-fashioned telemovie.
The idea is well established, as are the pivotal characters. We get a feel early on for what they’re going through and how it has affected them.
All the key players have a brooding quality, which the script calls for. The performances are solid enough, so that’s not where the problem lies. Rather, it is the story that gets away from the actors and lets them down. That is the work of first-time feature film writer David K. Murray, with direction from Stein (Terminal). Every Breath You Take becomes more far-fetched the longer it goes. Still, the cinematography by Michael Merriman is a showcase of the natural beauty of mountainous Vancouver (doubling for Washington State).
Overall though, while the movie had its moments, ultimately it felt derivative and I was left disappointed.
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Alex First is a Melbourne based journalist and communications specialist. He contributes to The Blurb on film and theatre.