THE AIR I BREATHE (*1/2) - Starring Kevin Bacon, Brendan Fraser, Forest Whitaker, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Andy Garcia, Emile Hirsch, Julie Delpy, Clark Gregg, Kelly Hu, Jon Bernthal and John Cho.
Written & Directed by Jieho Lee.
This is one of those pointless serendipitous dramas that wallows in melancholy, even when it names three of its characters Happiness (Whitaker), Pleasure (Fraser), and Love (Bacon). I don't know how director Jieho Lee assembled such a talented cast, but he squanders the opportunity.
Four stories intertwine, the first called Happiness, about a guy who overhears word on a fixed horse race. He bets all he has, but then the horse stumbles, and now he finds himself indebted to a very dangerous gangster named Fingers (Garcia). If his name has been something different, like Heartache, we would know he would get his own story, but alas, it's Fingers. Why? Because when a gambler doesn't pay what they owe him, he cuts off a finger. Why is this story called Happiness? Irony.
Next comes Pleasure, about one of Fingers' men who gets flashes of what will happen in the future. It makes him a very good fighter. He's assigned to watch Fingers' nephew and help him lose his virginity with a hooker. The nephew is played by Emile Hirsch (Into the Wild), but it's a punk role any 20-year-old actor could have played. His part of the story starts showing Pleasure beaten bloody, and when we get to that point in the story, I understood a little bit more, but it was a stretch.
I won't got through them all, but it ends on a series of coincidences that maybe is supposed to add up to something greater, as if it's an Altman or Inarritu movie. I felt similar to how I felt when Southland Tales ended ("wow, what a waste of a good cast") except ST was lighter and had at least a good scene or two. This has good acting that adds up to nothing.