There are five main types of directors. One, the director with a background in film-buffery (Quentin Tarantino); two, the director with a background in acting (Ron Howard); three, the director with a background in film criticism (François Truffaut); four, the director with a theater background (Neil Labute); and, five, the director who has a background simply in directing (Steven Spielberg).
France’s Mélanie Laurent is the second kind of director on my list. She is primarily an actress, who in this country is known for her role in Tarantino’s (the first kind of director on my list) Inglourious Basterds. She has directed two films, the second of which, Breathe, is filled with moments that really achieve the condition of enchantment.
But here is the thing: Directors with an acting background have a natural tendency to bank a lot on acting, which is one of the least interesting elements of the art. An actor’s face is of far greater value than his/her performance. Laurent, however, has this understanding. Her film, which concerns a brutally close relationship between two high-school girls, is almost all about the surface of faces, the magic of motion, the qualities of light, and the possibilities of color. A film should always strive to be as wonderful as Breathe.