Bleeker Street/Participant Media
Directed by: Andy Serkis
Written by: William Nicholson
Starring: Andrew Garfield, Claire Foy, Ed Speleers, Tom Hollander, David Butler, Ben Lloyd-Hughes
The movie Breathe will be released in theaters this weekend and it marks the directorial debut of Andy Serkis. For my money, he has a winner on his hands right out of the gate! Based on the true story of Robin Cavendish, diagnosed at age 28 with polio and given only 3 months to live, the film is equal parts heartbreaking and uplifting. At the beginning of the film, we are introduced to Robin (played brilliantly by Andrew Garfield) as he meets, falls in love with and, subsequently marries, Diana Blacker (portrayed by the ever graceful Claire Foy). In 1957 while in Africa for his job as a tea broker, Robin suddenly falls ill and becomes paralyzed from the neck down, unable to breathe on his own. A few weeks later, Diana gives birth to their son Jonathan but due to Robin’s condition, he is unable to even hold his newborn child. Despair sets in and Robin begs for death but Diana refuses to let him give in. (Interesting side note: the real-life Jonathan Cavendish is one of this film’s producers!)
After forcing his release from the hospital and being told by a doctor that he would be dead within 2 weeks outside of their medical confines, his family and friends move him into a new home and Robin slowly begins to find his reasons for living. With the help of his friend Teddy Hall (played gleefully by Hugh Bonneville), an inventor and a professor at Oxford, Robin is able to mount his respirator on a makeshift wheelchair which allows him to experience more of life.
The story is thick with emotion as you experience both the highs and lows of the characters in this gripping film about the heights of the human spirit. The entire cast is absolutely superb and they are skillfully guided by Serkis’ steady hand. While I felt there was a slight lack of chemistry between Garfield & Foy early on in the film, that didn’t seem to matter by the end as they both slowly draw you in to this sobering look at how life can change almost instantly and how what we choose to do with our lives can be impacted by those with whom we surround ourselves. This will almost certainly get some award nominations in the upcoming season. Just make sure to order a side of tissues with your popcorn and soda.