REVIEW: ‘Keep Breathing’ is Edge of Your Seat Survival

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Keep Breathing - But Why Tho

Melissa Barrera is a stellar lead actor. Her work on the dramatic side with Vida pushed important conversations about identity and belonging while her recent work in the Scream revival sequel showed her horror genre chops. Now, with Netflix Original Keep Breathing she’s marrying the two worlds of traditional drama and the survival thriller set that puts her at the center and keeps her there. The series also stars Juan Pablo Espinosa, Joselyn Picard, Jeff Wilbusch, and Florencia Lozano.

The series, from co-showrunners and writers Brendan Gall and Martin Gero follows Liv, a New York lawyer who is going through the wringer. When she forces her way onto a private plan to get to her destination, disaster strikes in the remote Canadian Frontier. The lone survivor of the plane crash Liv must battle both an unforgiving wilderness and past personal demons to stay alive.

As much as Keep Breathing embraces brutal survival elements fit with broken bones and reactions to the wild, it’s also a story of grieving when you don’t want to, and processing the pain from your past as building blocks of who you are. The series takes on mental health, the fear of becoming our parents, and the ultimate need to look inside to survive. Sure that feels like a cliche, but within the series, Liv is tortured to the point of not knowing how to keep living in her normal life, throw in surviving in the middle of the Canadian frontier and the grit she has to find to survive is terrifying.

Keep Breathing pays as much attention to handling difficult emotions like leaving and being left, death, and the way our memories can trick us until we unpack them from the trauma we associate with them. This is particularly true for the way the series builds out Liv’s relationship with her dad and how she reshapes her anger towards him that built as a child when her mother left. There is a tenderness to the series that helps pull along the narrative between its more harrowing moments. This is a series built on emotional and survival in every shape of the word, emotional and physical.

Additionally, the awesome quality of the world around her becomes a character all of its own. Threatening and beautiful, nature is healing Liv as much as it is killing her. It is wide open arms and a punch to the chest, and all of it is captured with majestic ariel shots and large landscape visuals that show how small Liv is in it all.

While some flashbacks offer more confusion than story addition, and as Liv begins to hallucinate and have fever dreams fueled by dehydration and malnutrition or injury, it can become a chore to decipher reality from illusion. That said, when you look the six-episode as a whole instead of those small flashbacks that cause pacing issues, you can see the larger picture and accept the immersive storytelling that showcases every small moment that has led Liv to be the fighter we trying to stay alive.

Keep Breathing isn’t a perfect series, but it is a good one, and that’s thanks to Melissa Barrera’s strength on screen —and her vulnerability too. Well worth your time, this is a series to hit play on whether you’re a fan of Barrera’s work, a fan of survival stories, or just looking for a journey of self-discovery through hardship.

Keep Breathing is streaming now exclusively on Netflix.


Keep Breathing
  • 7/10
    Rating - 7/10
7/10

TL;DR

Keep Breathing isn’t a perfect series, but it is a good one, and that’s thanks to Melissa Barrera’s strength on screen —and her vulnerability too. Well worth your time, this is a series to hit play on whether you’re a fan of Barrera’s work, a fan of survival stories, or just looking for a journey of self-discovery through hardship.

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