Breathless takes us into the rarely-glimpsed world of synchronized swimming to depict an operatic story of love, jealousy, and betrayal, yet, in a dazzling twist, the camera never leaves the pool. A random internet video of synchronized swimmers from under the water was meant to trigger laughs, but instead it planted a seed in director Oleksii Sobolev’s mind. In this odd sport, we only see what’s above the surface, while a whole lot happens below. Stumbling upon a powerful metaphor, Sobolev plays with the idea that we only get to see the gorgeous, flawless performance these women deliver with their routine, while all their messy struggles are hidden underneath. Most of their lives are down there, inside the pool, sheltered from our eyes by the surface. The routines are mesmerizing and interactions between characters look as graceful as ballet. For an authentic look, Sobolev casted synchronized swimming Russian royalty instead of professional actors. World Champion Anna Udovik and Olympic Champion Angelika Timanina act perform their roles with an expected grace.

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