Life’s a Breeze is a rigidly predetermined film that runs on the fumes of hackneyed plot points, squandering at nearly every turn a humanistic study of a family’s struggle to maintain a tenable bond with one another. The story follows the repercussions of a working-class Dublin clan trying to do right by their long-suffering matriarch, Nan (Fionnula Flanagan). The fallout from her children’s surprise plan to update her modest living with new furniture and appliances is the stomach-churning realization that a discarded mattress from the house contains about a million Euros in savings stashed inside of it, setting off a citywide search by the family that ultimately grabs the attention of the local headlines.
Nan’s teenage granddaughter, Emma (Kelly Thornton), is something of an audience surrogate as she witnesses the hubbub around her, and she exudes a mature shrewdness that belies her age. This includes taking into account the great pains the family will go to in order to retrieve Nan’s mattress, however incompetent they may be at doing so. But writer-director Lance Daly shortchanges the character’s role in the film, with the bulk of the narrative revolving around the less-intriguing grown-ups going through predictable motions. Rather than expand on the nuances of the family’s relationships, Daly instead seizes the chance to stage racy comedic set pieces that ultimately feel out of place, such as an awkwardly blocked sequence involving a stripper crashing Nan’s birthday party.
Emma rather abruptly becomes the film’s hero in the end, only to pin the heroics on her uncle, Colm (Pat Shortt), who had tried (and failed) to subvert his slacker image for the duration of the family’s search for Nan’s mattress. It’s an admittedly poignant gesture that counters the banality of the otherwise preordained ending, but it’s a case of “too little, too late,” as it’s hard to buy Daly’s sudden spotlight on Emma’s humanism when, until then, his only interest was in oiling the gears of the film’s sitcom-y premise.