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The Air I Breathe


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The Air I Breathe (Movies)
The Air I Breathe (Movies)
The Air I Breathe (Movies)
The Air I Breathe (Movies)
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Information about The Air I Breathe

The Air I Breathe is a 2008 (12 years ago) directorial movie debut of Korean-American filmmaker Jieho Lee, who co-wrote the script with Bob DeRosa. It stars Sarah Michelle Gellar (29 walls), Brendan Fraser, Cecilia Suárez, Clark Gregg, Emile Hirsch, Forest Whitaker, John Cho, Julie Delpy, Kelly Hu (19 walls), Kevin Bacon and Andy Garcia. The movie was financed by NALA Investments through its production company NALA Films. The movie was released on Jan. 25, 2008 (12 years ago) in the United States.

The concept of the movie is based on an ancient Chinese proverb that breaks life down into four emotional cornerstones – Happiness (Whitaker), Pleasure (Fraser), Sorrow (Gellar), and Love (Bacon). The proverb speaks of these emotions, not as isolated fragments of feelings, but as elements that make up the whole of the human existence. Each of the four main protagonists is based on one of the four emotions; and like the proverb their paths are inextricably linked to each other, akin to the Fingers (Garcia) of a hand.

None of the four main characters' actual names are mentioned in the whole film, although Gellar's character's stage name, "Trista", is mentioned several times.



Each of the elements of life is portrayed using different characters with Andy Garcia (Fingers) playing the character that intertwines all four individuals.


Forest Whitaker plays a bank employee who loves butterflies. When he accidentally overhears a sure bet at a horse race he decides to bet $50,000, borrowing from the bookies. Unfortunately he loses the bet and gets caught by Andy Garcia (Fingers) who runs that gambling/betting pool.

Fingers derives his name from his habit of cutting off the fingers of those who don’t pay back their debts. When Fingers threatens Whitaker that he will cut off his fingers if he doesn’t pay his debt of $50,000, Whitaker decides to rob a bank. After fleeing to a roof the police order him to drop his gun. He does not comply, throwing his bag with money into the street, and is killed by the police. When he hits the ground his coat is spread out making him look like a butterfly.


Brendan Fraser plays a man with a sad past and an ability to foresee the future of the people he meets, an ability that deprives him of the pleasure of enjoying the surprises in life. When he was young, he was forced to defend his younger brother in a street fight against two other teenagers. Fraser won the fight but found his brother lying dead. Fraser often has flashbacks of this scene throughout the film. Later in his life, Fraser joins Fingers' gang and becomes one of Fingers' favorites due mostly to Fraser's ability to foresee the future of everyone he meets except for one person – Trista (Gellar).

He is set to look after Fingers' nephew, Tony. He has a vision of Tony climbing a fence and falling back. To avoid trouble, he leaves Tony in a club while he continues with his work (collecting protection money). Unfortunately, one of the girls that Tony is with, high on drugs, staggers into the next room. When Tony follows her, they struggle over a gun, and an older mobster gets shot. Pleasure rescues Tony, and they run from the henchmen, ending at the fence of the earlier vision. However Tony crosses without problem, and it is Fraser who is caught by the henchmen, and beaten up.


Sarah Michelle Gellar (29 walls) plays a famous pop singer and dancer with the stage name "Trista" who works with a manager who is indebted to Fingers. The manager uses all of Trista's money to pay Fingers, but that is not enough, and so he gives Trista's contract to Fingers. Trista escapes from Fingers and meets Pleasure. Fingers, naturally, has already ordered his team to find her. In the meantime, Pleasure helps Trista by letting her stay in his house knowing that his house is the only place where Fingers wouldn't search. They become lovers, but eventually Fingers finds out, and kills Pleasure. She also has Kp(a-b-) blood group, which she reveals when the interviewer asks her what is special about her. This becomes useful information after Love hears it on the TV, at which point he is looking for blood type that is the same as Gina's blood type; when he is trying to save her.


Kevin Bacon plays a doctor who is in love with his longtime friend Gina (Julie Delpy) but is too afraid to let her know. Gina gets bitten by a poisonous snake and desperately needs a rare form of blood that only Trista has. Trista comes to the hospital after being injured trying to escape from Fingers. After Fingers tells her that she must abort the baby she is carrying, she is about to jump from a roof to commit suicide. Love saves her and she helps him by providing blood for a transfusion.


Trista escapes in Love's car and hits Happiness (in the scene that we saw from his point of view earlier), and as she sits at the intersection coming to grips with what has happened, the money he throws from the top of the building falls and lands on Trista's car roof. The movie closes with Trista at an airport travelling away and Fingers looking for her in the hospital at the same time.


  • Forest Whitaker as Happiness
  • Brendan Fraser as Pleasure
  • Sarah Michelle Gellar (29 walls) as Sorrow
  • Kevin Bacon as Love
  • Andy Garcia as Fingers
  • Emile Hirsch as Tony – Fingers' nephew
  • Julie Delpy as Gina
  • Will Maier as Mr. Park
  • Clark Gregg as Henry
  • Cecilia Suárez as Alison
  • John Cho as Bart
  • Kelly Hu (19 walls) as Jiyoung
  • Jason Dolley as Young Pleasure
  • Todd Stashwick as Frank
  • Jon Bernthal as Interviewer
  • Mike Carlucci as Horse Race Announcer
  • Sasha Pieterse as Young Sorrow


The movie was released on DVD (Digital Versatile Disc) and Blu-ray Disc on May 27, 2008 (12 years ago) in the US and includes a commentary, featurette, trailer and deleted scenes. The movie was released on DVD (Digital Versatile Disc) in the UK on sep. 15, 2008 (12 years ago).


American critics gave the movie generally negative reviews. As of Apr. 1, 2008 (12 years ago), the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reported that 14% of critics gave the movie positive reviews, based on 22 reviews. Metacritic reported the movie had an average score of 37 out of 100, based on 9 reviews. However, Sarah Michelle Gellar (29 walls) was praised for her role in the film.


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