The lives of two struggling women fatefully intersect in “And Breathe Normally,” an affecting first feature by Icelandic filmmaker Isold Uggadottir.
Having an increasingly hard time making ends meet, Lara (Kristín Thóra Haraldsdottir), the single mother of a young son (Patrik Petursson), lands an opportunity to work as a border security officer at Iceland’s Keflavic airport.
During her on-the-job training she crosses paths with Adja (Babetida Sadjo), an asylum-seeker from Guinea-Bissau attempting to travel to Toronto on a forged passport which has been intercepted by Lara.
As Adja awaits inevitable deportation in a drab refugee center following a brief prison term, Lara, who has had past issues with drug addiction, is living a parallel constricted existence after losing her apartment and living in her car with her son, Eldar, who ultimately serves as the conduit that will again bring the two women face to face.
Set in a particularly gray and windswept stretch of the Reykjanes Peninsula, where those persistent, howling gusts serve as a chilling metaphor for the swirl of upheaval that threatens to uproot people like these, the film, which debuted last year at Sundance, covers considerable, resonant socio-political ground while being anchored by the compelling performances of its’ leads.
Despite their inherent differences, Haraldsdottir’s Lara and Sadjo’s Adja proceed to form a shared maternal bond that strikes a touching universal chord.
‘And Breathe Normally’
In English and Icelandic with English subtitles
Running time: 1 hour, 42 minutes
Playing: Available on Netflix