Film Review: Casey Affleck, Sam Claflin and Michelle Monaghan in ‘Every Breath You Take’

Vaughn Stein, the filmmaker behind Margot Robbie’s 2018 drama Terminal, directs the freshly released Every Breath You Take. The project based on a screenplay from newcomer David K. Murray sees a trio of stars including Casey Affleck, Michelle Monaghan and Sam Claflin taking centre stage in a vehicle which feels like something of a throwback to nineties domestic thrillers. Whilst unlikely to be regarded as memorable in any sense, Stein crafts some enjoyable suspense and moderate thrills in this trashy potboiler.

Every Breath You Take centres on psychiatrist Philip (Affleck), who shares an unconventionally open bond with a vulnerable patient. The patient’s suicide and the subsequent arrival of her mysterious brother James (Claflin) sparks a destructive turn of events for Philip and his family including wife Grace (Monaghan) and daughter Lucy (India Eisley).

Cinematographer Michael Merriman crafts an enigmatic canvas for this tale to unfold upon – packing shots with subtle grey hues and stark blues, there is a real understated quality in the visuals of Every Breath You Take. Tonally this does wonders for the feature helping craft the sense of brooding unease and sinister undercurrents lurking within the conventional domestic settings. A piano-driven score from Marlon Espino furthers this impressive tonal character, drawing additional intrigue and simmering tension into the visuals of the feature.

David K. Murray’s narrative winds together some interesting, albeit familiar threads lacing them with just enough mystery to keep Every Breath You Take watchable albeit conventional. Initial pulls come in the unorthodox relationship shared by Philip and late patient Daphne (Emily Alyn Lind), something which makes her death slightly more suspicious whilst providing the uneasy motivations behind her brother James’s arrival. It’s blatantly clear to viewers that James’s motivations are not pleasant with Claflin entertaining to watch as he begins to unravel the conventional family dynamic with a melodramatic gusto – including manipulating both Grace and Lucy.

The mind games and James’s entanglement within the family unit grow increasingly predictable and elaborate in their overwrought melodrama which gives the feature an almost nostalgic similarity to classic nineties television movies or schlocky thrillers – packed with equal amounts domestic melodrama and mild titillation. Yet unfortunately, the lack of any particularly new or innovative narrative strands and some misjudged plot turns to build suspense that will leave viewers shaking their heads, Every Breath You Take can verge on unmemorable.

Whilst Monaghan and Claflin provide engaging, watchable turns – the former as the matriarch whose family bubble begins to unravel; the latter as the Cape Fear type villain who seeks to unravel it – Affleck’s muted delivery and inexpressive performance prevent the family’s plight being as emotive as it could potentially be. Strong support from Veronica Ferres as Philips’s colleague adds some additional conviction to Silence of the Lambs style interrogation scenes.

Every Breath You Take has some redeeming qualities in its aesthetics and mildly engaging narrative, yet Stein’s film ultimately feels overtly familiar and lacking in suspenseful finesse.

Every Breath You Take will be releasing on Sky Cinema and NOW TV from 23rd July