Uplifting and emotional film ‘Breathe’ opens in cinema on Boxing Day

BREATHE |In Cinemas | FROM DEC 26 | ★ ★ ★ ★  

The romantic and inspiring film ‘Breathe’ was a sensational opening to the Cunard British Film Festival at Cinema Paradiso in October. Now the film will get a wider release, opening in cinemas on Boxing Day.

The real life story is the directing debut of actor Andy Serkis

Beginning in the late 1950’s, Robin Cavendish (Andrew Garfield), an ex-army officer turned tea merchant meets Diana Blacker (Claire Foy) at a cricket game. He captures her attention by batting a six into the china, it’s terribly delightfully English.

The pair move to Kenya, they arrive in small plane which the debonair leading man flies himself, and begin living a romantic life in the colony, backed by beautiful sunsets and stunning vistas.

They spend their time having dinner parties and making friends with other ex-pats. On a jeep ride through the wilderness Diana shares some good news with her husband, she’s pregnant and their going to start a family.

The first fifteen minutes of this film are so incredibly smaltzy, its laid on thick like treacle. Then something changes, both in the story and in the tone of the film.

Robin suddenly falls ill, he’s caught polio, he’s can no longer breathe for himself, he’s completely paralyzed. Doctors say he’ll be dead within 12 weeks.

From here the film documents Robin’s fight to live the most productive life he can, challenging the establishment’s view of what rights and respect people with severe disabilities have. He’s a maverick, a trailblazer and a rule breaker.

Over the decades that follow he pushes through every barrier proving that he can live at home rather than in a hospital, that he can be mobile, travel and be an advocate for others.

Aiding Robin in his quest, alongside his wife, are a great cast of characters. Tom Hollander (Rev, The Night Manager) plays both of Diana’s twin brothers Bloggs and David Blacker, using a filming technology similar to that used in The Social Network. 

Hugh Bonneville (Downton Abbey) is inventor friend Teddy Hall, Charles Dean Chapman (Game of Thrones) plays the couple’s son Jonathan, Miranda Raison (Spooks) appears as family friend Mary Dawney, and Edward Speleers (Downton Abbey) portrays friend Colin Campbell.

The action takes place over several years and the production successfully ages many of the young actors over the movie, while correspondingly making some of the older actors look positively youthful in their early scenes.

While on the surface the film is a testament to the triumph of the human spirit, and a document for disability advocacy, it also carries a weighty punch at the end, as it touches on the issue of euthanasia and quality of life – making it a very relevant film in our current society.

It’s a powerful film, which while somewhat predictable in its structure and delivery, delivers an emotional and affecting story.

Breathe will be in cinemas from Boxing Day, December 26th. 

Graeme Watson

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