Freediving is a brutally simple sport: you dive into the sea as deep as you can go on a single breath, and then try to make it back up to the surface alive. 

Written and directed by Kildare’s own Laura McGann, The Deepest Breath (12A) revolves around the freediver Alessia Zecchini, whose ambition from early childhood was to break the freediving world record set by the legendary Natalia Molchonova, and Irishman Stephen Keenan, who became a freediving safety instructor via a circuitous route that began with the desire to be an explorer like David Attenborough.

A documentary that employs archive footage of Alessia and Stephen’s dives blended into interviews with those who knew them best — their fathers, most poignantly, to the fore — the film very quickly takes on the form of a drama as we realise that tragedy is in the offing: ‘extreme sports have extreme consequences,’ Stephen’s father tells us, foreshadowing what is to come.

The Deepest Breath. Pic: Netflix
The Deepest Breath. Pic: Netflix

It’s a gripping tale, and especially during those long claustrophobic dives into the impenetrably dark depths when Alessia and her peers push their bodies beyond what is theoretically possible, and that’s even before we get to the world’s most notoriously lethal freediving venues, the ominously named Vertical Blue in the Bahamas and the treacherous Blue Hole and its 50-metre-deep arch — freediving’s ultimate challenge — off the coast of the Red Sea. 

As thrilling as it is moving, The Deepest Breath is a film about a unique couple, superhuman endurance and off-the-charts heroism. Just don’t forget to breathe.

Source link