A woman’s determined journey of self-improvement after a break up hits a bumpy road when she discovers a missing kitchen appliance.


“Today, more than ever, we are all bombarded with dreams of self-improvement and reinvention. The promise that with only one small adjustment, we could be happier, fitter, more successful, fulfilled in love and relationships. As* great as a strive for betterment is, we risk now allowing ourselves to simply take the time we need to get there. Fail, be overwhelmed, be heartbroken.

I wanted the protagonist of “Exhale” to realize that the hard way. She’s reacting to the heartbreak of a recent relationship breakup by doing what most of us would do: throwing herself head first into a dozen self-improvement projects. And it all seems to be working beautifully, on the surface. But then the smallest thing can bring down the whole facade. The Celine at the end of the film is still trying to be the best version of herself that she can be, but also allowing herself to grieve, take stock, fall, and then get back up.

As usual, I wanted to style of the film to follow the content, characters, and the arc of the story. So I went for a softer look, with low-contrast and hazy edges. Most of the film was shot on one vintage Nikon 85mm still lens that lent an intimacy of visuals to an already very intimate story. I wanted the viewer to feel close to Celine, study her facial expressions, as she goes through an emotional rollercoaster. The music is centered around a gorgeous, traditional Greek love ballad, Hartino To Feggaraki (Little Paper Moon) that is achingly romantic and sad, and whose translated lyrics could well have been spoken out by our main character.

The shooting of “Exhale” was an absolutely bare-bones affair, with a handful of friends, a wonderfully talented actress from Denmark, Hanna, who I got to meet only on the first day of our two day shoot. One of our biggest assets was a lovely apartment borrowed from a friend, with a view to kill for. Except that the sunset we had been planning for didn’t seem to be forthcoming thanks to a last minute overcast forecast. It was only after we had given up on the sunset shots and our actress had left (not just the set, or the city, but technically the country!) that the clouds parted, revealing a beautiful golden sky. A few panicked phone calls later, she managed to turn around and get back in time and we managed to get the shots we needed. It was a labour of love and a heartfelt tale of a remarkable woman finding strength in her vulnerability, that we all felt passionate about telling.”

-Rouzbeh Noori

Directed by Rouzbeh Noori.
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