Director: Andy Serkis
Release: 4 October 2017 (LFF), 27 October 2017.
From: Imaginarium Productions
Format: Theatrical Release
Age Rating: 12A
When Robin Cavendish contracts Polio at the age of 28 his life is shattered. He’s newly married and has a baby on the way, so the prospect of spending the rest of his life in a hospital bed and depending on a machine to breathe seems impossible. He’s all but given up but his wife Diana hasn’t, and through her support and determination he is able to enjoy life again. They persevere in the face of adversity, creating a better life not only for himself but also for other severely disabled people around the world.
Breathe is Andy Serkis’ directorial debut, made through his own company The Imaginarium, which focuses on motion-capture performance and bringing the fantastical to life. It’s different to what may be expected from the renowned actor, it features a quiet yet emotional narrative and approaches the story with a delicate touch. It’s a film that’s close to both Serkis’ heart and the film’s producer Jonathan Cavendish, who wanted to make the film as a tribute to his parents and can be seen as a child, and young teen, in the story. With its sympathetic, but in no means patronising, depiction of Robin’s disability the film is a sincerely moving look at two people whose love happened to change the world, and it presents a touching story of love and determination.
What makes Breathe work so well are the outstanding performances at its centre. Andrew Garfield and Claire Foy’s deeply emotional representations of their characters are so good that they are the undoubted driving force for the film. Garfield proves himself to be a masterful performer, tapping into a variety of feelings to present a nuanced performance, and Claire Foy is also impressive for her grit and fierce determination in the role, doing what she knows is best even when nobody else agrees. The pair have great chemistry together and their character’s strong bond and love for each other is immediately evident from the get-go.
While their take on the characters is inspiring, and their story is beautiful, the film itself is not as ground-breaking a bio-pic as might be imagined. Regardless, Serkis has a great eye for imagery and directing, and with Robin and Diana’s moving tale it hardly seems to matter that it’s not delivering something new because it is such a touching tribute to two incredible people.
Review by Roxy Simons
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