Breathe is the directorial debut of Andy Serkis and tells us the real-life story of Robin Cavendish, played by Andrew Garfield, who life changes forever in 1958 after he contracts polio in Africa and is paralysed from the neck down almost instantly. After being taken into care and then flown back to hospital in England, he’s told that he only has months to live and that there’s nothing more they can do.
Because Robin also needs a machine to breathe, he’s seemingly stuck in a dark hospital bed until his last breaths but his wife Diana (Claire Foy), who’s also a few months pregnant, decides that she must get him out and find a way to take him home, and make his final days ones that can be spent at home rather than on a ward with other dying polio patients. While this might sound all very depressing and downbeat, and it is saddening to begin, Breathe isn’t really about dying, it’s about celebrating life and it’s all inspired by Robin and Diana’s amazing, heart-warming story.
With a screenplay by William Nicholson, the man who was also behind Gladiator, Unbroken and Mandela: The Long Walk to Freedom, they’ve got someone who knows people well and with huge experience in the power of the human fight to survive. Whilst the script is a tale of strength against adversity and about living for ‘now’, director Serkis manages to avoid all the tropes and come up with something that’s both humble and inspiring. This is partly due to the exceptional performances from Andrew Garfield and Claire Foy in the lead roles but also due to a warm palette, that’s smartly paced and eager to find the heart behind what could be seen as a life sentence without much hope.
While underneath it’s a classic love story, this is also a true tale of remarkable people. Breathe is a calm, happy and powerful film that makes you think about the own state of your life. It also reminds you, if you’re fully able, to think about what you can do, rather than what you can’t, because if you want something to really achieve something then the possibilities are endless…
Breathe is out to own now on digital download, and on Blu-ray and DVD on 26 February. Order here: http://amzn.to/2GsDGbP