Breathe + Q&A (12A)



Drama (2017)
117mins UK

Starring: Andrew Garfield, Claire Foy, Tom Hollander, Hugh Bonneville, Dame Diana Rigg
Director: Andy Serkis
Writer(s): William Nicholson
Listings: London | Rest of UK and Ireland

Robin Cavendish is a globe-trotting adventurer, who sets his sights on the lovely Diana Blacker. "Not a chance. She's a total heartbreaker," chuckles one of Robin's upper-class pals. Unperturbed, Robin wins the fair maiden's heart with charm and they head to 1953 Kenya, where he operates as a tea trader. Marriage beckons and as the couple prepares to welcome a child into the world, Robin contracts polio. Paralysed from the neck down and reliant on a respirator to breathe, Robin tearfully prepares for death.

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LondonNet Film Review
Breathe (12A)

Each day, the ebb and flow of our beautiful, fragile lives can be synchronised to the rhythm of thousands of litres of air passing into and out of our lungs. We don't consciously analyse the carefully calibrated and automated process of inhalation and exhalation but when something disrupts the flow of oxygen to the brain, the consequences can be devastating. Breathe is the inspirational true story of a dapper young man, who contracted polio in 1950s Kenya and was confronted with the grim reality of spending his final days confined to a hospital bed, paralysed from the neck down and reliant on machines to carry out basic bodily functions. Encouraged to embrace life by his spirited wife rather than shrink from it, the patient blazed a defiant trail by venturing outside of the hospital ward in a specially constructed wheelchair fitted with a battery-powered mobile respirator. "No-one with your husband's disability exists outside the hospital," warns one doom-mongering medic...

Breathe. Copyright: STX Entertainment/Imaginarium. Caption: Claire Foy as Diana Blacker and Andrew Garfield as Robin Cavendish in Breathe, directed by Andy Serkis. Photo: Laurie Sparham. All Rights Reserved.There are strong echoes of The Theory Of Everything in Andy Serkis's directorial debut, which is anchored by sterling performances from Andrew Garfield and Claire Foy as the married couple, who believe the strength of their love and the enduring power of the human spirit will prove science wrong. Scriptwriter William Nicholson cuts back and forth between the central love story and medical miracles, delivering gentle tugs to our heartstrings as setbacks embolden the seemingly powerless to risk everything for one more day in the sun.

Robin Cavendish (Garfield) is a globe-trotting adventurer who sets his sights on the lovely Diana Blacker (Foy). "Not a chance. She's a total heartbreaker," chuckles one of Robin's upper-class pals. Unperturbed, Robin wins the fair maiden's heart with charm and they head to Kenya, where he operates as a tea trader. Marriage beckons and as the couple prepares to welcome a child into the world, Robin contracts polio. He tearfully prepares for death but Diana refuses to accept their young son, Jonathan, will grow up without knowing his father. Supported by a kindly doctor (Amit Shah) and her twin brothers Bloggs and David (both played by Tom Hollander), Diana sneaks Robin out of hospital. They solicit money from wealthy patron Lady Neville (Dame Diana Rigg) to build a wheelchair designed by pal Teddy Hall (Hugh Bonneville) and work closely with Dr Clement Aitken (Stephen Mangan) to share the invention with the rest of the world.

Breathe is a classy, moving and quintessentially British love story, distinguished by top-notch production values. Garfield and Foy kindle smouldering screen chemistry, and they wring out tears by the gallon in heated exchanges borne of fear and frustration. Serkis directs with a light touch, delivering one stand-out sequence when a plug is accidentally pulled from a socket. At that heart-stopping moment, we hold our breath too.

- Jo Planter

Breathe. Copyright: STX Entertainment/Imaginarium. Caption: Claire Foy as Diana Blacker and Andrew Garfield as Robin Cavendish in Breathe, directed by Andy Serkis. Photo: Laurie Sparham. All Rights Reserved.


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