- Colin Fraser
THREE STARS A young man is struck down by polio at the age of 28. He defies expectation and lives.
Starring Andrew Garfield, Claire Foy
PERIOD DRAMA #BREATHE
Andrew Garfield continues his journey from the blockbusters which set his future and made his name. And BREATHE is as far from SPIDERMAN as you could hope to get. He plays Robin Cavendish, an English public servant struck down by polio at the age of 28 and given months to live. Through sheer bloody-mindedness and with the loving support of his wife (THE CROWN’s Claire Foy), he defies expectation and all known experiences of the debilitating disease. In doing so, he redefined what it meant to be disabled across the western world.
The creative partnership of screenwriter William Nicholson (GLADIATOR) and debut director Andy Serkis (better known as the stunt body for LOTR’s Gollum and APES’ Caesar) are also working well out of the milieu that made their fortunes. BREATHE is an agreeably small film with modest ambitions, one that suits Serkis’s budding talent. It doesn’t reach far, but nor does it need to. This is largely a vehicle to showcase Garfield’s significant talent and he doesn’t disappoint.
The film has all the warm, cuddle-worthy resonance of Sunday night TV whose primary motive is to celebrate the life of the Cavendish’s. Nothing wrong with that, the couple remain an inspiration. That their son is one of the film’s producers accounts for a certain lack of distance which, had it been present, would have helped elevate the production to something truly noteworthy. Nonetheless, if you like grand, romantic gestures backed up by strong yet under-stated performances, BREATHE has a lot to offer.