The very dramatic and touching film Breathe delves into one of the most debilitating diseases of the past century bringing back memories of that awful time in history. Most of all however, it’s a biography of determination, inspiration and romance that should touch the hearts of fans of the genre.
Ex-British Army officer and passionate cricket player Robin Cavendish (Andrew Garfield), while playing at an exclusive country club in England, meets high society debutante Diana Blacker (Claire Foy). The two fall in love, get married and fly off to South Africa where they set up their homestead. A child is on the way things are all right with their world.
That is until Robin comes down with the debilitating disease Polio. The illness cuts off the ability to move muscles from the neck down. Paralyzed, needing a respirator and unable feed himself, he lies in a hospital bed while being attended to night and day. At a loss, but determined to be with and help her husband, Diana stays with Robin day after day.
The very compelling and heartbreaking story doesn’t end there as it becomes one of the most important story of its time. Director Andy Serkis, known for his amazing acting skills, takes the reigns of Breathe and makes it a winner. It’s his first attempt at being on the other side of the camera and he does a nice job of bringing the true story to life. Working with a screen script by William Nicholson from accounts provided by Producer Jonathan Cavendish, the son of Robin and Diana Cavendish, Serkis keeps the film real.
In the starring role of Robin, Andrew Garfield digs down deep and comes up with an inspirational portrait of the determined man who would not lie in a hospital bed the rest of his life. Instead, along with his twin brother-in-law’s Bloggs and David Blacker (Tom Hollander) and fledgling inventor Teddy Hall (Hugh Bonneville), they come up with a contraption that would allow him to go out in the sunshine and back to England. Garfield, much like Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything, devotes every move and word to his character making it all look real and convincing. It’s for these reasons that his performance should be in contention for Oscar honors.
Breathe has been rated PG-13 by the MPAA for mature thematic material including some bloody medical images. Youngsters may get bored with the mushy stuff and really not understand the incapacitating effects of Polio. More mature children should be able to cope with the long scenes showing the bedridden Cavendish
FINAL ANALYSIS: A good film for romantics and history buffs.
Additional Film Information:
Cast: Andrew Garfield, Claire Foy, Tom Hollander, Stephen Mangan, Hugh Bonneville, Penny Downie, Dean-Charles Chapman, Harry Marcus, David Wilmot, Amit Shah, Mary Dawnay, Ben Lloyd-Hughes, Jonathan Hyde, Emily Bevan, Sylvester Groth, Camilla Rutherford.
Directed by: Andy Serkis
Genre: Biography, Drama, Romance, History
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for mature thematic material including some bloody medical images
Running Time: 1 hr. 57 min.
Release Date: October 20, 2017
Distributed by: Bleecker Street Media
The comments within this review are the critic’s expressed opinions.