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The acclaimed directorial debut from veteran Austrian actor Karl Markovics (star of the Academy Award-winning The Counterfeiters), is an eloquent, affecting portrait of an incarcerated teenager (newcomer Thomas Schubert) attempting to win parole by working at a local morgue. Raised from birth in institutions, he is initially impassive and self-sabotaging in his behavior; soon, though, he begins to respect the solemn work of handling the dead, and starts to come to terms with his own youthful crime. (C)Kino

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Rotten Tomatoes Score: 88%

Critic Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes

"A film of unreconciled impulses, Breathing is by turns vaguely sentimental and cooly detached in a manner that's ultimately more off-putting than it is complementary."
‑ Michael Nordine, Village Voice
"Markovics shows a keen attention to performers that you'd expect from a thespian-turned-director."
‑ David Fear, Time Out New York
"An affecting, unsentimental film with a strong central performance from Thomas Schubert."
‑ Philip French, Observer [UK]
"A beautifully judged, small-scale human drama that lingers in the memory long after some of those rowdy, big-budget blockbusters have faded."
‑ Allan Hunter, Daily Express
"Markovics flexes his muscles on the other side of the camera with terrific effect. A fine, moving debut for the new writer/director."
‑ David Parkinson, Empire Magazine
"Elegant cinematography by Martin Gschlacht, one of Austria's most sought-after lensers, gives "Breathing" added depth."
‑ V.A. Musetto, New York Post
"There's no superficial flash here, just patient and compassionate storytelling gradually immersing us in this young man's world, as first-timer Schubert's vulnerable adolescent grows up before our very eyes."
‑ Trevor Johnston, Time Out
"Not exactly life-affirming, but Schubert's performance is so eloquent and Markovics's direction so sure that the film blazes with an extraordinary power."
‑ Derek Malcolm, This is London
"Markovics's script circles around the themes of death and life in thoughtful and elegant ways: it is a well-carpentered screenplay which bears every sign of having been a labour of love, worked on fruitfully over many years."
‑ Peter Bradshaw, Guardian
"Thoughtfully shot by first-time director Karl Markovics, the only warmth comes from the stiffening cadavers."
‑ Matt Glasby, Total Film
""Breathing" stands as a sure-handed look at an individual's slow journey toward realization."
‑ Nicolas Rapold, New York Times
"Low-key, sombre, and slightly more lively than the coffins."
‑ Siobhan Synnot, Scotsman
"A provocative debut that captures its subject under glass and is content to observe. It's painful and poetic but a shade too introspective for its own good."
‑ , Film4
"As an actor-turned-director film, Markovics bracing debut is up there with Xavier Beauvois' of Gods and Men."
‑ David Jenkins, Little White Lies
"Poignant story of a nineteen-year-old at a Austrian juvenile detention center who gets a probation job at a morgue and begins inching toward a new life."
‑ Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat, Spirituality and Practice
More reviews for Breathing on Rotten Tomatoes