Breathe – a movie review by Roz Tarszisz

December 19, 2017 by Roz Tarszisz
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True stories about people living with great physical difficulties are generally uplifting and this directorial debut from actor Andy Serkis (War for the Planet of the Apes) is no exception.

British golden couple Robin Cavendish (Andrew Garfield, Hacksaw Ridge) and his wife Diana (Claire Foy, The Crown) are living in Africa, awaiting the birth of their first child.  When Robin is suddenly struck down by the polo virus, their lives are changed forever.

Diane is told that Robin, aged 28, is likely to die within six months.  Paralysed from the neck down.   he cannot breathe unaided.  After their son Jonathan is born, she manages to get them all back to England where Robin is confined to a hospital bed, kept alive by a noisy clanking machine. Understandably he becomes very depressed.

Plucky Diane believes he will be better off at home and, even though doctors tell her it cannot be done, she manages to achieve her goal.

Together with the help of her twin brothers Bloggs and David (Tom Hollander) and good friend and inventor Teddy Hall (Hugh Bonneville), they find ways to improve Robin’s situation. Teddy invents a mobile chair that incorporates breathing apparatus, so he can sit up and be wheeled about, something which greatly improves his life.

Their son, Jonathan Cavendish, is producer and this film is an homage to his mother.  Without her devotion and determination to care for his father, Robin would probably not have been around to watch him grow up.

Teddy Hall’s continuing improvements were put to good use. Diane, Robin and Hall raise funds to manufacture his chair so that other patients can find the freedom of movement that it gave him.

They visit a facility in Germany where rows of polio victims are stacked inside iron lungs with just their heads poking out. By contrast, Robin’s situation seems almost normal.

There are amusing scenes such as when the Diane breaks him out of hospital or when Robin’s breathing apparatus breaks down on a Spanish road trip.

Performances are excellent.  Script writer William Nicholson (Gladiator) has got to the heart of a moving love story while first time director Andy Serkis has created a world where the impossible becomes more possible.

3.5/5 117 mins Classified M Released December 26

Stars Andrew Garfield, Claire Foy, Tom Hollander, Hugh Bonneville

Director Andy Serkis

Written by William Nicholson

Based on a true story.



One Response to “Breathe – a movie review by Roz Tarszisz”
  1. Shirley Glance says:
    You have neglected to comment that he had polio!
    Not just any disability & yes living with a disability is difficult.

    Being a polio survivor myself I know too well the frustrations. The anti vaccination campaigners should watch this movie to see his struggles & frustrations of life !

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