Review: Breathe

 
 

Director: Andy Serkis

Writer: William Nicholson

Starring: Andrew Garfield, Claire Foy, Tom Hollander, Hugh Bonneville.

Release Date: 20th October

 

Andy Serkis’ directorial debut is a well-intentioned film set in the 1950s that deals with issues surrounding treatment of people with disabilities. This theme is brought to life via a retelling of Robin Cavendish’s life story.

Cavendish (Andrew Garfield) is a charming young man who is diagnosed with polio at the age of 28. The plot focuses on Cavendish’s struggles, with his inner self and in his relationship with his wife (Claire Foy), and his desire to help those in similar positions as himself despite being told by doctors that his life was effectively over.

With a running time of 117 minutes, the latter half of the film seems to drag but the performances keep you emotionally invested.

Garfield’s portrayal of Robin Cavendish is heart-warming. The actor’s ability to depict a bed-ridden man with such an appetite for life is simply applaudable. Foy as Diana Cavendish does a good job with what she is given but tends to over-sentimentalise at times. Much needed comic relief is provided by Tom Hollander as Diana’s twin brother and Hugh Bonneville as Teddy Hall, the inventor of Robin’s wheelchair.

A film based on true events is not easy to depict, and William Nicholson had a lot of material to communicate in his writing. However, Andy Serkis manages to get the best out of the material and offers a film the Cavendishes would be proud of.

The film was produced by Robin Cavendish’s son Jonathan. This direction coupled with Robert Richardson’s cinematography manages to capture the British essence of the 1950s in the style of contemporary filmmaking. The film does, however, lose some of its steam and impact because of its pacing. With a running time of 117 minutes, the latter half of the film seems to drag but the performances keep you emotionally invested. The film offers subtle undertones of a father-son relationship which ultimately turns out to be heart-wrenching as the movie climaxes.

Pacing and an overly sentimental Foy are the only pitfalls with this picture.

Andy Serkis makes a brilliant début with Breathe. His direction ensures that the film does not waver from its goal and ultimately reaches it despite some tediousness. It is shocking to see the treatment of people with disabilities only a few decades ago. Pacing and an overly-sentimental Foy are the only pitfalls with this picture. However, don’t be surprised to hear it talked about as a potential award winner.

In a nutshell: A solid debut from Serkis, Breathe leaves you with immense positivity.

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