Every Breath You Take is a 2021 psychological thriller released as a Sky Original film, with an impressive cast including the likes of Casey Affleck and Sam Claflin. Yet despite the usually reliable cast, with an entirely predictable plot and a title that has no relationship to the subject matter, Every Breath You Take is sadly a rather dull affair.
Casey Affleck is Dr Philip Clark, a psychiatrist who is trying experimental therapy methods on a patient, Daphne (Emily Alyn Lind), to rid her of her medication and depression. His wife Grace (Michelle Monaghan) is a real estate agent, and his daughter from a previous marriage Lucy (India Eisley) has just been kicked out of boarding school after taking drugs. The family are still struggling to move on from the death of Philip and Grace’s son Evan a few years earlier in a tragic car accident. Philip and Grace are almost estranged in their marriage, living separate lives, and Lucy is seemingly ignored by her father despite countless cries for help.
Philip’s initial therapy with Daphne works well and she is happy and off her medication, although she is struggling to get rid of a controlling boyfriend. However, the death of a close friend sends Daphne into a spiral and she commits suicide. Called out to the scene of her death, Philip meets Daphne’s brother James (Sam Claflin). He is distraught and days later turns up at Philip’s house to return a book loaned to Daphne. Grace invites James in for dinner, where he charms the family with his novelist aspirations and English accent and soon befriends all of them, including daughter Lucy.
Not long after Daphne’s death, Philip’s boss Dr Vanessa Fanning (Veronica Ferres) starts to receive complaint letters about his conduct with Daphne which spirals into countless no-shows at his therapy sessions. Initially dismissed by Vanessa, continued complaints to the psychiatry board result in Philip’s suspension from work while the issues are investigated, and he himself attempts to discover who is trying to ruin him.
The biggest issue with this film is that the plot is entirely predictable. I’m sure most people could figure out how everything unfolds purely from my summary above, and it’s no different with the film itself. There is a twist at the end that may come as a surprise to some, but for most even this wouldn’t be much of a surprise. We’ve seen countless films like this with similar stories about vengeful friends or relatives trying to ruin the life of the person they hold responsible for their beloved’s death, and sadly we’ve seen it done a lot better. The overall ambience of this film is quite good though, it comes across as rather grey and monotone but this does suit the theme of depression and grief and fits in well with a rather dramatic and tense score.
The script isn’t particularly bad, but neither is it memorable either, although it’s the cast that suffers the most. The usually excellent Casey Affleck, whose similar role as a grief-stricken father in Manchester by the Sea won him an Oscar, appears to have forgotten to bring anything that made his aforementioned role such a knockout. He’s almost stumbling his way through this film and is entirely forgettable. Sam Claflin does well with what he’s given, but he isn’t helped by the fact that his character is a walking cliché complete with an English accent that screams bad guy from the very start. Michelle Monaghan too puts in a good performance but isn’t given enough time to shine with the rather poor material. As generic psychological thrillers go, Every Breath You Take is vaguely watchable thanks to the cast and a decent score. However, it feels like this story would have had a lot more potential if the filmmakers had taken it down a less predictable route
See all photos >>
A contract manager moonlighting as a rather discerning film and book critic, with an almost fangirl appreciation for anything made by Christopher Nolan. When I’m not catching up on my latest read or watch, you can usually find me trying out my amateur baking skills – Bake Off here I come!