What happens when a confirmed cynic is confronted with the specter of true love? That’s the central dilemma in Still Breathing, James F. Robinson’s charmingly nice romantic comedy.
The film opens with an eccentric San Antonio street performer, Fletcher McBracken (Brendan Fraser), attempting to visualize the woman of his dreams with an amalgam of magazine photos. You see, the men of the McBracken family have a gift: they each have a vision of their true love. It happened to Fletcher’s father, and his father’s father before him. Now Fletcher is having the visions, and he is trying to capture the image so he can search the world for the woman of his dreams.
That woman, unknown to Fletcher, is in Los Angeles. Rosalyn Willoughby (Joanna Going) is a jaded high stakes con artist who bilks rich men out of their money with an elaborate art scheme. She has long since put aside notions of true love in favor of a much more cynical attitude.
When Fletcher appears in the midst of his quest, Rosalyn mistakenly confuses him for a rich mark. But soon his eccentric ways and his unflinching faith in his vision begin to erode her defenses, and she finds herself unwillingly falling in love.
Still Breathing treads a thin line. It manages to be sweet and charming without ever becoming overly saccharine and sappy. Its offbeat sensibilities take a little while to warm up to (at first, Fletcher could be mistaken for a sociopathic stalker), but given time they grow on you.
Brendan Fraser does a superb job with his sheepishly charming street performer. In his best roles, he mixes confidence with a slight bit of naïveté, as he does here. Joanna Going is appropriately headstrong with just a hint of vulnerability. The two of them go well together, which is a necessity for any romantic comedy.
If you’re in the mood for a pleasant little romantic comedy, Still Breathing hits all the right notes. Cynicism need not apply.