Baltasar Kormakur’s new film “Inhale” deals with illegal organ-harvesting operation in Juarez, Mexico. Known for his 2007 feature “Jar City”, which was Iceland’s official Oscar selection for the Best Foreign Film category, Kormakur remains the country's most successful, vibrant and prolific director.
A variation of a psychological thriller, “Inhale” is a morality play in the milieu of the criminal underworld. After many unsuccessful attempts to find a lung donor for their daughter Chloe, Paul Stanton (Dermot Mulroney) and his wife Diane (Diane Kruger, “Inglorious Basterds”) attempt "transplant tourism," after learning of a local politician, James Harrison (incomparably played by Sam Shepard) had obtained his transplant illegally in Mexico. Paul blackmails him and Harrison reveals the the identity of Dr. Navarro, his contact in Juarez. Shepard’s performance offers the film moments of intelligence and insight. He plays a man, who is not proud of his transgression but is desperate to survive. Paul is also desperate to save his little girl and leaves for Juarez with regret and sorrow.
Like Steven Soderbergh’s “Traffic” , Kormakur ‘s film is divided roughly into two sections: a direct-cinema style look at Paul’s daily life in Santa Fe mixed with moving and weaving images of the violence and poverty that tear Mexican society apart. Kormakur even calls the gang of street kids Paul encounters in Juarez, “Los Olvidados” in homage to Bunuel’s classic tale of children in poverty.
Arriving in Juarez, Paul searches the underworld for Dr. Navarro. When he finds him and his cronies, who operate under the umbrella of Doctors Without Borders, Paul’s middle-class conceptions of love and morality are challenged. The donors turn out to be the same street children Paul had befriended earlier. He needs to decide between the life of his own child and the lives of hundreds of children on the streets of Mexico. Kormakur’s work displays a much more complex attitude and outlook on the problem of organ harvesting than any legal brief or journalistic piece. Kormakur controls his material admirably and underscores his story with splendid performances.
“INHALE” OPENS IN LOS ANGELES AND NEW YORK ON OCTOBER 22
(Simultaneously available on IFC Video-on-Demand)
Los Angeles Theatres: Laemmle’s Sunset 5 and Pasadena Playhouse