By Gregory Crofton
Humans can be strange. Whether they’re on a deadly path to reach the peak of Earth’s tallest mountain, or diving deep into the ocean on a single breath, some people need danger to get by.
She was right. I had heard about free diving, but never truly laid eyes on it. The film starts out fast by showing the sport at its ugliest, the moment near the surface where divers can blackout due to lack of oxygen and must be rescued by safety divers.
In most cases these divers survive without serious injury, but to see their unconscious but open and glassy eyes and jerking head and body emerge from the water is beyond shocking.
But McGann’s film uncovers more than sport. She found a fiery love story between Stephen Keenan, of Ireland, and Alessia Zecchini, from Italy. The two wanderers crossed paths in Egypt at a famous Blue Hole where Keenan had set up a diving center. Both were free divers and both were wild at heart.
McGann had directed one feature — “Revolutions” (2016) about roller derby in Ireland — prior to the release of “The Deepest Breath.” The deep pockets of A24 and Netflix, both producers of the film, must have been key. She built this complicated love story with great visuals and a big soundtrack while marking sure to weave in the complexities of the sport.
The film, which runs nearly two hours, does take a touch too long to come to its crescendo. Stick with it. View it in two sittings if need be, but don’t miss this out on this great story.