An inspiring real life tale that leaves you in no doubt about the strength of the human spirit.
In recent years, Andrew Garfield has swapped web-slinging for gutsy true-life tales, and his latest star turn in Breathe shows just how far the former Spider-Man has come in his career.
Garfield plays former army man Robin Cavendish, a charming and athletic tea-broker, who gets cut down in the prime of his life by polio in the late ‘50s while living in Kenya.
Robin has everything to live for, including his beautiful wife Diana (Claire Foy), who’s pregnant with their first child.
However, during a tennis match with his close pal Colin (Ed Speleers), Robin has a funny turn which quickly shows itself to be polio, and in the blink of an eye, he is left paralysed from the neck down, with a machine breathing for him.
Wanting her husband to come back to England with her, Diana asserts her fighting spirit by proving doctors wrong and transporting Robin and his bulky breathing apparatus back home.
On home soil, Robin is entrusted into the care of doctors, and despite falling into depression, Diana won’t allow him to give up on her and their son Jonathan.
As his black cloud starts to pass, Robin regains the ability to talk, and although he is receiving the top treatment of the time in hospital, ‘60s medical care for polio sufferers is a far cry from modern day medicine, and Robin begins to feel like a prisoner and longs to be at home.
Diana is an expert at reacting to her husband’s needs and springs into action, disobeying stuffy Dr. Entwistle’s (Jonathan Hyde) orders to stay put.
And with the help of the lovely Dr. Khan (Amit Shah) and some sympathetic nurses, she breaks Robin out of his medical jail.
With Dr. Entwistle’s grim prediction that Robin won’t survive long outside of hospital ringing in their ears, Diana and Robin must navigate uncharted territory as they start life with Diana as a carer.
Assisted by their superb group of friends, including Diana’s twin brothers Bloggs and David (both excellently portrayed by Tom Hollander) and inventor and Oxford University professor Teddy Hall (Hugh Bonneville), the Cavendish family live a rich and full life, and pioneer the way for other severely disabled people to do the same.
Breathe is a beautifully told love story that never dwells on the sadness of Robin’s situation, but rather shines a light on the hope ignited by Robin and Diana’s dedication to making life better.
It marks the directorial debut from Andy Serkis, and further proves what a brilliant storyteller the motion capture supremo is.
While some aspects are gut-wrenchingly sad, the entirety of the film is truly uplifting.
Garfield does justice to Robin’s fighting spirit, as does The Crown actress Foy with Diana’s.
The pressure of doing the characters justice must have been doubled with the fact the real-life couple's son, Bridget Jones’s Diary producer Jonathan Cavendish, was working on the film, but both stars rose to the challenge.
A top-notch British cast supports Garfield and Foy’s commanding performances, including Stephen Mangan as Dr. Clement Aitken, another forward thinker who, like Robin and Teddy, envisions a better future for the disabled.
Make sure you take tissues for Serkis’ powerful first foray into directing, which is sure to be nominated for top industry accolades come awards season.
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