Breathing Happy Is The Perfect Post-Holiday Recovery Film

Toward the beginning of “Breathing Happy,” Dylan (Shane Brady) leaves a voicemail to his sister saying, “I’m at one year sober today. I dunno, technically I’m not gonna get it until another hour and 40 minutes, but even I can’t f*** that up, right? I miss you guys. Merry Christmas.” The film immediately showcases the uncomfortable honesty that comes with being the person known for disappointing the family. Dylan is sitting alone on the eve of his birthday, Christmas, and his first anniversary of sobriety. This is a big day, but it’s bittersweet when he has to consider what it took to get to this point. Dylan has endured severe, unimaginable losses on his quest toward sobriety, the kind that can’t be repaired even if he stays sober for 100 years.

Alone, surrounded by festive pressures, Dylan reminisces about the Christmases past, grieving those he’s lost and trying (and failing) to unpack how he feels about the way his behavior while in the throes of addiction irreparably damaged his relationships with everyone he’s ever loved. “Breathing Happy” is timed to align with the final moments of his first sober year, and the magical, existential dread that washes over him as the clock gets closer to midnight.

Haunted by visions of his past and potential and unfathomably depressed on Christmas Eve, “Breathing Happy” feels both like “A Christmas Carol” and “It’s a Wonderful Life,” but updated for our current sensibilities. As much as the film is certainly worth a holiday watch, its impact feels greatest in the recovery period between Christmas and New Year’s — the time vortex of a week that we’re all currently trapped within.

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