Aussie surf film ‘Breath’ and ‘toxic femininity’

“Point Break” has its surfers robbing banks when they aren’t on the water, while in “Blue Crush” they clean hotel rooms. In “Breath,” they swim in the choppier waters of erotic asphyxiation.

The movie adapts Australian novelist Tim Winton’s iconic coming-of-age novel of the same name that became notorious for its depiction of “breathplay” an extreme sex act involving strangulation or suffocation.

But the unconventional sex has proved less controversial than the tender age of one of the movie’s leads, played by teen newcomer Samson Coulter, who is seduced into bed, underage, by 27-year-old Elizabeth Debicki’s character.


Mark Powell, the associate pastor of Cornerstone Presbyterian Church in the suburbs of Sydney, noted in a column for Australia’s Spectator magazine that Winton had been outspoken regarding “toxic masculinity.”

“So, why isn’t anyone concerned with the ‘toxic femininity’ that Winton is presenting?” he asked, noting a recent spate of sex scandals in Australia involving female teachers and their high school students.

Powell referred to a 2012 research paper on Winton’s novel by Colleen McGloin of the University of Wollongong, which suggests the seduction of a 15-year-old boy by a grown woman could be read as “a representation of paedophilia.”

“Breath” — out in the US on June 1 — is the directorial debut of veteran Hollywood actor Simon Baker, who starred in “L.A. Confidential” and “The Devil Wears Prada” but is best known in his native Australia for his television work on global hit “The Mentalist.”


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