Synopsis: The inspiring true love story of Robin and Diana Cavendish, an adventurous couple who refuse to give up in the face of a devastating disease.
Stars: Andrew Garfield, Claire Foy, Diana Rigg, Miranda Raison, Dean-Charles Chapman, Hugh Bonneville
Director: Andy Serkis
Running Length: 117 minutes
TMMM Score: (8/10)
Review: If Breathe seems a bit familiar to you, it’s probably because you’ve also seen The Theory of Everything. That film, about the life of Stephen Hawking, has similar themes and won star Eddie Redmayne an Oscar for his miraculous portrayal of a man whose body is failing him with a mind still sharp as a tack. I found that movie to be filled with good performances (co-star Felicty Jones was also Oscar-nominated for Hawking’s strong-willed wife) but lacking in overall emotional heft. While Breathe was always bound to draw comparisons, the surprising news is that it has the same memorable performances and the resonance The Theory of Everything lacked.
Robin Cavendish (Andrew Garfield, The Amazing Spider-Man) is a newlywed living with his pregnant wife Diana (Claire Foy) who contracts polio before he has turned 30. Paralyzed from the neck down and given mere months to live, Robin is resigned to his fate and unable to even look at his infant son. Not content with letting her husband fade away without a fight, Diana becomes his advocate and helps him leave the hospital ward and into their house in the English countryside.
Over the next several decades Robin will defy all expectations for those with his same affliction and become a rare voice for patients with conditions that left them unable to move or enjoy the world like everyone else. With advancements in technology that Robin played a part in helping to design, he is able to live a full life as a husband and a father. There are setbacks along the way and painful realties that have to be dealt with, instances that the film doesn’t totally gloss over but does treat them as speed bumps instead of potholes.
The first film directed by actor and famed motion-capture performer Andy Serkis (Star Wars: The Force Awakens), Breathe looks wonderful and has grand performances as well. Garfield is charming throughout, even when he’s at his depressive worst, and he’s balanced nicely by Foy’s stalwart acting that maintains the dignity in both her character and Garfield’s.
It would be easy to let Breathe slip through your grasp and if you happen to miss it in theaters keep your eyes, ears, and heat open for it to pop up for home consumption.