The Deepest Breath | Review by: Stefano Bove


I have never understood the fascination with extreme sports and those who risk their lives to attempt something that most would consider dangerous. As someone who is deathly afraid of water,  The Deepest Breath is the closest I have ever come to understanding the fascination with both extreme sports and free diving. 

The story follows Italian free diver, Alessia Zecchini and her story from a young age of 13, to World record setting free diver. This sounds wonderful when put like this but the sport that Alessia loves so dearly, has taken many lives, including some very close to Alessia. 

At the age of 13, she already began breaking records but had to wait until she was 18 to compete in competitions for official records.  Molchanov held the record for many years for farthest free dive, set at 100 meters; Molchanov was Alessia's inspiration and idol in the sport and beating Molchanov's record was always Alessia's goal. 

Filmmaker Laura McGann takes us on the journey and explores the world of freediving competition from around the world but also shines a light on the physiological and physical pressure one endures competing in this challenging sport. It does help that the community of free divers are also avid outdoorsmen and adventurers so divers and training are all documented and recorded over the years which makes for a seamless documentary with no reenactments. Laura captures the state of mind Alessia and all free divers require to complete, it is something that I can not comprehend but now understand. I had many moments of heightened anxiety watching this doc as diver cams show pitch black waters as they swim skyscraper levels below the sea. 

Using archival footage, as well as interviews from both Alessia's father and Ezno, the story of Alessia's life and the sport is told through their lens as well as many Free divers who have competed and trained in the sport over the years. In the second half of the documentary, we are introduced to Stephen Keenan. The documentary then becomes about the two of them as Stephen and Alessia's lives become interconnected both romantically and through the passion of the sport but their love story ends tragically in the final moments of the documentary. 

This was one of the toughest documentaries I have ever watched, it's a tragic story about the lengths we go to to achieve our goals, even if it is life or death. The thrill of the challenge and competition is wonderful at the moment but is dangerous even for the most skilled and trained athletes. This documentary is powerful in that regard, we put athletes on a pedestal but this documentary is the most honest sport documentary I have ever watched.

The Deepest Breath is now playing in theatres and available on Netflix July 19th.


Review by: Stefano Bove

#review #netflix #theatres #toronto #italy #italian 

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