Drake Doremus

Kate Lyn Sheil

Remember back when we told you that it was time you started paying attention to indie it girl Kate Lyn Sheil? Well, not to get out braggy on, but we were right. Sheil has got a packed schedule — just look at her IMDb page, which is crammed with “completed” and “post-production” features, shorts and television projects — but the actress has managed to make some room for another feature film, one that’s already been poised to rocket its talented team into the next echelon of indie filmmaking. Needless to say, it’s a good fit for Sheil. Sheil has just joined up with Drake Doremus‘ Equals, the latest feature from the perennial Sundance favorite (the director behind films like Breathe In and Like Crazy, both of which have bowed at the film festival in recent years to general acclaim), a futuristic and sci-fi-tinged project titled Equals. The film is a big step forward for Doremus, a high concept affair that still manages to focus on relationships (Doremus’ speciality). Complete with a script by Nathan Parker (Moon), Equals could be the next big sci-fi romance to hit the box office. Oh, and the rest of its cast doesn’t hurt, with Kristen Stewart, Nicholas Hoult and Guy Pearce already on board.


Guy Pearce and Felicity Jones in BREATHE IN

The first time I made a serious attempt at jogging as an “adult” it was in a sad attempt to impress a foreign exchange student named Isabelle. I was 22 and she was 18, but wait, it gets even more pathetic. She was staying with my girlfriend’s (at the time) family. That was the beginning and the end of it, but I share the embarrassment to acknowledge that the appeal and temptation of the “exchange student” is more than just a late night Skinemax cliche. Breathe In, the new film from c0-writer/director Drake Doremus, explores that dynamic but takes it to far more serious extremes than a simple run around the block. Keith Reynolds (Guy Pearce), his wife Megan (Amy Ryan), and their teenage daughter Lauren (Mackenzie Davis) are living a seemingly content life in New York State. He plays cello, teaches music at his daughter’s school, and is preparing to audition for an important chair position with the Philharmonic, but he has an underlying desire to return to the simplicity of his youth. The family takes in a British foreign exchange student named Sophie (Felicity Jones), and it’s not long before their illusory happiness is threatened.



People will hate Drake Doremus’s Breathe In. They will walk out of the theater and be sad and confused and maybe even (probably, really, more than anything) angry. They will hate it because they will hate the characters that exist inside of the film, and they will hate it because they make them mad, and they will hate it because it is not Like Crazy 2. And that’s okay, because while Breathe In will elicit all these emotions (and, quite likely, more), it is an immensely accomplished and measured film, an assured follow-up to Doremus’s other Sundance hit, 2011’s Like Crazy, and even more assured because it is not like Like Crazy, not at all, and that is something to marvel at. While Doremus and his co-screenwriter, Ben York Jones, turned their eyes on a couple that should be together in Like Crazy, when it comes to Breathe In, they go in the complete opposite direction, to a couple that should, by no means, be together. And while we all know that as every minute of Breathe In steadily ticks by, they don’t know that (or, at least, they refuse to believe that), and the result is car crash cinema done right. You can’t look away. But you can’t cheer for it in the slightest.


Culture Warrior

Imagine what some of our most beloved romantic films would look like if they were made in the 21st century. Laura and Alec of David Lean’s Brief Encounter could have managed their secret meetups over text. Harry and Sally could have checked each others’ okcupid accounts before explaining every aspect of what they seek in a partner over a cross-country road trip. And Ilsa would never have had to get on that plane because, y’know, the war’s over. This is a fruitless endeavor, I know, but it brings one thing into light which poses both problems and opportunities for the contemporary romance film, specifically the romantic comedy: politics, economic conditions, shifting gender roles, and technological evolution means different kinds of relationships and, thus, different kinds of romantic movies. How can the 21st century romance film expect the wedding-bell-chiming happy ending to work in a society full of emerging adults who feel less and less of a need to get married? How can new romantic comedies account for the fact that today’s working professional must move constantly – putting all their human relationships at risk – in order to find a job that suits them without only making films about the uber-privileged? Will there ever be a mainstream romantic comedy featuring a non-monogomous or non-heteronormative protagonist? Several recent screen romances have attempted to tackle the changing nature of relationships – or, at least, the type of relationship typically depicted in the Hollywood romance.


Watching Like Crazy was a frustrating experience for me. The whole time I was watching the film, I felt as if I should have been enjoying it much more than I actually was. Visually, the film is both intimate and gorgeous, kind of like watching a home movie if your dad was a virtuoso filmmaker. The performances are all strong, from top to bottom. But despite all of the obvious talent on the screen, I just couldn’t find myself connecting to the story or the characters as they were crafted. Maybe I’m not much of a romantic, but I found the relationship woes of the main characters Jacob (Anton Yelchin) and Anna (Felicity Jones) to be less than compelling. In fact, they were pretty frustrating to get through. Who were these kids and why should I care that they treat their personal lives like the most important things in the world? We’re not so much introduced to Jacob and Anna as we watch as they’re introduced to each other. The film opens with their meeting in a college course in which Anna is a student and Jacob a teacher’s aid, followed by Anna’s bold decision to leave a note declaring her infatuation under Jacob’s windshield wiper, and the stilted conversation and stolen glances of their first date. The getting-to-know-you sequence is cute, but it doesn’t last long. Soon we’re informed through montage (we’re informed of a lot of things through montage in this film) that the two kids are now very […]


Sundance veteran Drake Doremus returned to Park City this year with a very different film than 2010’s Douchebag. For his 2011 entry, Doremus brought along Like Crazy, a sensitive and romantic film that doesn’t rely on anyone taking their shirt off or ludicrous meet-cutes or casts packed with tween pop stars to make it work. I saw the film back in January at Sundance, and it is one of two romantic dramedies with a young, hip cast from the festival that has stuck in my mind these many months. The other one, the Freddie Highmore-starring The Art of Getting By (retitled from its Sundance name, Homework) has remained in my brain mainly due to how much I hated it. It’s frowned upon to spit when speaking about films, but that’s been the best way I’ve found to physically express how terrible that movie was, and how emotionally disingenuous. On the flipside, there was Doremus’s Like Crazy, which stars Anton Yelchin and Felicity Jones (with co-starring appearances by Jennifer Lawrence and Charlie Bewley). Not to get emotional over here (because, you know, gross), but Like Crazy is one of the best films about long distance relationships I’ve ever seen (and I know from long distance relationships).


A young man and woman fall in love while at college, but since the girl is British, she gets legally removed from her love and the two have to make due with a long distance version of their heated partnership. This is the story that just got by Paramount for $4 million.Director Drake Doremus’s Like Crazy features this storied plot and performances from Anton Yelchin and Felicity Jones that are being hailed for their strength, familiarity and truth to life. The Hollywood Reported said the movie was “bruisingly bittersweet and made with the kind of tenderness that suggests a deep personal significance,” and Erik Davis at Cinematical claimed, “It’s a powerful film, to say the least, and it will most likely destroy those who’ve had experience with a long distance relationship,” while also praising the humor and sweetness of the movie. Absolutely be on the lookout for this film to show up in theaters sometime in 2011. [IndieWire]

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published: 12.22.2014
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