Film Review – Breathe (2017)

Title: Breathe (2017)

Director: Andy Serkis (feature debut)

Cast: Andrew Garfield, Claire Foy, Tom Hollander, Hugh Bonneville, Ed Speleers

Plot: The true story of Robin and Diana Cavendish (Garfield and Foy) whose love was tested by Robin’s paralysis at the hands of the dreaded polio virus in the early 1960’s.

“I don’t want to just survive. I want to truly live”

Review by Eddie on 23/05/2018

Before his long gestating Mowgli hits screens sometime in the near future, Gollum himself Andy Serkis makes his much-anticipated debut behind the camera with this dramatic adaptation of the true life story of polio sufferer and disability campaigner Robin Cavendish.

Honing his craft as an assistant on various Lord of the Rings projects, Serkis has certainly been a part of enough largescale filmmaking to know an inside tip or two about what it takes to conjure up a fine piece of cinematic entertainment and that’s exactly what he does with Breathe, provides an entertaining, if somewhat light experience that perfectly cradles the middle of the road through its entire runtime.

Set over a period of 25 or so years from the late 50’s to early 80’s, as Garfield’s Robin and his wife Diana (played by The Crown’s breakout star Claire Foy) face off against Robin’s paralysing polio diagnosis, Breathe is a handsomely crafted film (thanks to the work of esteemed DOP Robert Richardson) and one that features a number of likeable performances from its main cast that includes support turns from Tom Hollander and Hugh Bonneville but there’s something slightly amiss in Serkis’s film that stops it from ever becoming a truly memorable or deeply affecting tale.

It’d take a heart of stone to not feel various emotions throughout the film and the relationship between Robin and Diana is a loveable one, even if Serkis could’ve spent a much larger chunk of time building up their budding romance before polio cruelled their lives together but overall Breathe never clicks into an upper gear as we go through the motions of Robin’s initial depression through to his determination to make the most of his life and be there for Diana and their son Jonathan.

Produced by Robin’s real-life son Jonathan, Breathe is clearly a love letter and a film made with genuine passion and well-meaning intent but for all the good will, it’s impossible to call Breathe an out and out success, even if it’s likely to become a bit of a TV movie favourite in its future life.

Filled with a few too many scenes that don’t ring true and some misguided time jumps that take us out of the film, rather than involve us deeper, Breathe should allow Serkis a solid soundingboard to build up his skill as a director as Breathe has wins and losses in equal measure and should be a great learning experience for the talented all-rounder moving forward.

Final Say –

With committed acting turns and a strong sense of visuals Breathe is always watchable and tells a rather lovely story but for all its good intents and deliveries there’s a sense that Serkis’s film could’ve been something far more special had it eschewed some of its cheesier and less successful elements.

3 eventful Europe trips out of 5

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