"Andy Serkis’ debut as director is the perfect combination between reality, hardship and comic relief"
Produced by Jonathan Cavendish to celebrate the life and love between his parents, Breathe is a moving tribute to Robin and Diane Cavendish and how, with their love, they battled against Poliomyelitis and its devastating consequences.
In a moment, in history, in which the discussion regarding diversity and disability is stronger and louder than ever, Breathe is a window into the life of a man, paralysed from the neck down, and his wife. It is a story that celebrates their strength on their journey together to fight the barriers and limitations that society imposed on disable people all over the world.
Throughout his life, Robin Cavendish had always been a man full of energy, competition and surrounded by friends, he had the woman of his dreams at his side and a thriving business as a tea broker in Africa.
Everything was perfect, until life crumbled at his feet when he is diagnosed with Polio and his conditions are instantly critical. The prognosis is fatal: paralysis from the neck down and a lifetime spent breathing, thanks to a ventilator.
Throughout the film, Robin and Diane have to overcome every possible challenge, from discharging Robin from the hospital against his doctor’s opinion, to finding a way to allow him to live a normal life.
Andy Serkis’ debut as director is the perfect combination between reality, hardship and comic relief. The theme highlighted in the movie is not light and has plenty of room for reflection, but Serkis’ directing technique gives to the film a personal touch with intimate close ups on the characters and close range shoots that make the audience see the world from Robin’s point of view.
The cinematography moves from warm colours to cold ones adapting to the different stages of Robin and his family’s reactions to his illness after learning that his condition is irreversible. Along with these great qualities, the story is highly reliable and moving due to Andrew Garfield and Claire Foy’s stellar performances as Robin and Diane.
They are both true to the story; Andrew Garfield completely understands Robin’s love for his life and his grief that lead to depression caused by seeing everything ripped away from him in an instant. Claire Foy’s portrayal of Diane’s strength and love for her husband is clear throughout the movie. The love for each other doesn’t feel staged, their partnership is strong and it feels like they both relied on each other’s performance. The cast ensemble supporting the main actors brought to the screen the perfect harmony needed to celebrate the life and courage of a family that was capable of overcoming the toughest lesson life could throw at them.
As the opening title of this year’s London Film Festival, Breathe is a love letter that Jonathan Cavendish wrote to his parents, that also manages to shine a light on a reality that it is still facing discrimination in our society almost 40 years after the events narrated in the film.