🇮🇸 And Breathe Normally 🇮🇸
And Breathe Normally aka Andið eðlilega (2018) is an Icelandic-Belgian drama on Netflix U.K., US, Canada. 1 hr 35 min. Icelandic with some English, available with English subtitles. Cert 12 U.K.
Kristín Þóra Haraldsdóttir as Lara
Babetida Sadjo as Adja
Patrik Nökkvi Pétursson as Eldar
Bragi Árnason as Helgi
Jakob S. Jónsson as Sigvaldi
Sveinn Geirsson as Bergur
Helga Vala Helgadóttir as Lawyer
Þorsteinn Bachmann as Hörður
Agust Bjarnason as Student
Guðbjörg Thoroddsen as Teacher
Sólveig Guðmundsdóttir as Kolbrún
Erling Jóhannesson as Customs Officers
Gunnar Jónsson as Driver
Peter Oskar Sigurdsson as Smuggler
Director: Ísold Uggadóttir
Cinematographer: Ita Zbroniec-Zajt
Writer: Ísold Uggadóttir
Music: Gísli Galdur
“Two women’s lives will intersect while trapped in circumstances unforeseen. Between a struggling Icelandic mother and an asylum seeker from Guinea-Bissau, a delicate bond will form as both strategize to get their lives back on track.” IMDb
This movie is a joint Icelandic-Swedish-Belgian production and is distributed internationally by Netflix.
I did not know what to expect from And Breathe Normally, despite having read the brief description above. What I got was a gritty, realistic and understated story revolving around two women from vastly different backgrounds.
Lara is a single-mother who is failing to make ends meet while caring for her young son, Sigvaldi. We see her struggles in various everyday scenarios and can empathise with her situation. She retains her pride, and her resolve despite the difficulties, but sometimes I wanted her to accept the help offered.
I certainly felt excited for her when she got her job in the border service, and it is there she first encounters Adja who is travelling on a false passport.
Adja is a woman who has left her home for completely sound reasons but none of these are sufficient for the authorities. We gradually learn of her family (through some nicely placed telephone calls and dialogue) and the danger she is in back home because of her sexuality. Her being a lesbian is integral to her storyline, whereas for Lara it is more of an aside.
Lara’s son, Sigvaldi, is, initially at least, the connector between the two women. His relationship with his cat, which they get from a shelter without having to buy for money they do not have, is very sweet. Sigvaldi has to be told by his mother that they are going on an adventure when they do a moonlight flit to avoid the landlord and end up sleeping in the car.
The very first impressions that I got from And Breathe Normally were that Iceland is a far bleaker place with more social issues and difficulties than we usually see. It definitely showed more racism, prejudice and exploitation than I had expected. Lara herself has a more privileged position than Adja because of who she is and the colour of her skin.
I loved the gritty and realistic cinematography and editorial decisions in this film. It has a very naturalistic approach and the acting feels very organic and realistic. The music adds to the overall ambience.
Now Breathe Normally examines both poverty and immigration in a way that humanises both and which enabled me to empathise with the two women both of whom are from groups that are too often demonised in the media.
Highly recommended movie which is worthy of the accolades it has received. It packs an understated yet powerful punch.
This film has won 8 and received a further 22 nominations. Awards won include:
Athens International Film Festival, 2018 Best Film
Chlotrudis Award, 2020 Best Director ~ Ísold Uggadóttir
Göteborg Film Festival, 2018 FIPRESCI Prize ~ Ísold Uggadóttir
Hamptons International Film Festival, 2018 Best Film ~ Ísold Uggadóttir
Sundance Film Festival, 2018 Directing Award World Cinema – Dramatic ~ Ísold Uggadóttir
Traverse City Film Festival, 2018 Robert Ebert Prize – Narrative ~ Ísold Uggadóttir
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