Every Breath You Take

  • 22 May - 28 May, 2021
  • Mag The Weekly
  • Reviews

In Every Breath You Take, Casey Affleck plays a psychiatrist. While Sam Claflin plays James Flagg, a charmingly “sincere” and insinuating creep who makes it his mission to disrupt the good doctor’s life. Why? One of Philip’s patients, a young woman named Daphne (Emily Alyn Lind), spent 14 months in a psych ward and kept on threatening suicide. So Philip decided to help her out in a most unorthodox way. In his picturesque office den, he squirmed past her defenses by dropping his shrink façade and telling her his life story, including things he’d never told his wife. He shared his trauma.

It worked: Her suicidal thoughts receded, her distressed symptoms went away. We see Philip discussing the case, with a touch of pride, in front of an audience at the college where he teaches. And then? Then Daphne’s friend dies, and she’s so distressed that she takes her own life anyway. So much for a priest of therapy making himself a confessor.

James is Daphne’s grieving brother, who after getting past the shock of her death presents himself as a polite and gracious chap. But we can already see that it’s an act, since he wastes no time maneuvering himself into the lives of Philip’s real-estate-agent wife, Grace (Michelle Monaghan), and his daughter, Lucy (India Eisley). James stalks the object of his hate by trying to tear his family apart. His most threatening tool? Seduction.

Every Breath You Take was shot in Vancouver, and the two houses in which much of the action unfolds are such tastefully grand pieces of real-estate, so isolated against their misty snow-capped-mountain backdrops, that they could almost be country mansions out of a Jane Austen novel.

You only wish that this much attention had been lavished on the script, by David K. Murray, which is functional and, at crucial moments, rather minimal. The movie skimps on the basics of what should have been a central issue: Why did Philip decide, so cavalierly, to pour his heart out to his patient? He gets called on the carpet for it, and we can deduce, in the abstract, that he was doing it for himself, but a film with more psychological layering would have utilised a moment in those sessions to sketch in his trauma.

– Compilation