BREATHE review by Ronnie Malik – Andrew Garfield leads Andy Serkis’ charming directorial debut

BREATHE review by Ronnie Malik – Andrew Garfield leads Andy Serkis’ charming directorial debut

Director: Andy Serkis

Cast: Andrew Garfield, Claire Foy, Ed Speleers, Tom Hollander, Ben Lloyd-Hughes, Miranda Raison, Camilla Rutherford, Hugh Bonneville, and Diana Rigg

Rating: B

Based on the life of Robin Cavendish (Andrew Garfield) and his wife Diana (Claire Foy), the film BREATHE is a heartwarming story of how one person’s life can impact generations to come.  First time director Andy Serkis (no stranger to film, of course) brings us the real life tale of a young man overcoming incredible odds after he is struck down by polio. This charming tale brings to light the suffering of the severely disabled man, and how lives can be changed for the better with just a little effort to think outside of the box.

The film wastes no time in connecting its two lead characters in a whirlwind romance. Once Robin and Diana are married they travel to Kenya so that Robin can manage his tea import business. Sadly, the lively 28-year-old entrepreneur is struck down by polio. Doctors inform his pregnant wife that her husband is now paralyzed from the neck down and on a breathing machine, and only has a few months to live. Unable to move and feeling hopeless, Robin falls into a deep depression and begs for a release from his predicament.

Diana, steadfast and on a mission to provide some type of life for the father of her child, pushes Robin to have hope that he can move forward. With the help of loved ones she manages to break Robin out of his hospital prison much to the dismay of a nasty snarling doctor that offers Robin no hope of survival outside the hospital walls. Once back in England, the couple’s dear friend Teddy (Hugh Bonneville) invents a wheel chair with a respirator attached to it so that Robin will have some mobility. As our hero fights to beat the odds and live a rich life, he also becomes a leading advocate for those suffering from extreme disabilities and is instrumental in influencing those in the medical field to develop technology to provide quality of life to those struck down by illness.

Strong performances by the two lead actors are the glue that keeps BREATHE alive.  Garfield, who in many scenes only has his face to communicate his character’s emotions, brings an earnest and deep quality to his role. The actor proves once again that he can bring to life any role and allowing audiences to truly connect with the part he is playing.  Foy is a standout as the devoted loyal wife that won’t give up on her husband. The best parts of the movie are when Garfield and Foy are on screen together. Robin and Diana’s love story, brought to life by the chemistry between the two actors, is very memorable and will warm hearts for many years to come.

Moving back and forth between dark and lighter times, the pacing of BREATHE sometimes feels sluggish and does not flow smoothly. There are also moments when the movie is trying almost too hard to be a tearjerker and seems rather cliché. With beautiful scenery that spans from English countryside, to Europe, to Africa, this production still manages to depict beautifully how love and determination can overcome the worst of odds. Overall, this lovely film with its simple storytelling is delightful experience that will leave those watching with a sense of hope for the future.

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