The Deepest Breath - Laura McGann
Credit: Courtesy of Sundance Institute
by Luke Gorham Featured Film

The Deepest Breath — Laura McGann [Sundance ’23 Review]

February 1, 2023

There’s no denying the sheer aesthetic appeal of Laura McGann’s The Deepest Breath. Charting the mind-boggling freediving efforts of Alessia Zecchini and Stephen Keenan, the documentary is a frequently ravishing exploration of the extreme sport in question — in which divers plunge to death-defying ocean depths without any breathing apparatuses, using only their exceptional lung capacity — capturing the deep down dark of the seas, and those who would be silhouettes against its vastness. For a while, McGann moves between Zecchini and Keenan’s respective narratives, kindred souls chasing something not quite articulable — notions of free living or recognition as the world’s best are bandied about, but never quite properly explored and accepted — and the early going is constructed of digressions and anecdotes of their respective lives, punctuated by awe-inducing images and acts that, in function, most closely recall the adrenaline-chasing timbre of Free Solo. Eventually, the two distinct threads coalesce into the film’s essential narrative, one that taps into the emotional core McGann carefully develops throughout, but which also highlights the film’s considerable weaknesses.

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Published as part of InRO Weekly — Volume 1, Issue 5.

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