Breathe (2017)

breathe**SPOILER ALERT***

Starring: Amit Shah, Andre Jacobs, Andrew Garfield, Ben Lloyd-Hughes, Camilla Rutherford, Claire Foy, David Butler, Dean-Charles Chapman, Diana Rigg, Ed Speleers, Honey Holmes, Hugh Bonneville, James Wilby, Miranda Raison, Roger Ashton-Griffiths, Stephen Mangan, Tom Hollander
Director: Andy Serkis
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 118 min

The first part of  is a straightforward boy-meets-girl romance set in the 50s. Robin (Andrew Garfield) is an amateur sportsman (tennis and cricket) who drives a flashy sports car and has a mischievous, roguish humor. He has his eye on Diana (Claire Foy from “The Crown”). Both Robin and Diana are what we might call posh. Diana and Robin begin a relationship and all seems set fair for their future. This part of the film is very dreamy and light and is worth watching in itself, quite apart from how it leads on to the next part of their story.

It’s the next part of the story, however, where things turn bad that gives the film a special interest. Robin is struck down with Polio and paralysed from the neck down. The heart of the film is about how Robin, Diana and their wide circle of friends deal with that. It’s an inspirational story based on the life and struggles of Robin Cavendish, a man who though tempted by suicide overcame that urge with the love of his Son and Diana and began to challenge the perceptions of and limitations placed on the disabled.

Despite it’s subject matter Breathe is not a dark or depressing film. It has very sad and dark moments (the scene in the German hospital is unsettling, for example) but is generally positive with a very English dry humor that just won’t go away or be worn down by adversity. There are also very uplifting, joyous scenes (like the Spanish roadside Fiesta).

Breathe shows how misconceived public and medical attitudes to the disabled were for decades but it isn’t preachy. It does show how far we, as a society, have come on this. Though we need to remember that progress has been, in no small part, because of the actions of disabled people like Robin Cavendish and that we still have a long way to go.

Reviewed by Pat Harrington

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1 Comment »

  1. John Field said

    This looks like a really interesting film – will have to look out for it. I’ve never heard of Robin Cavendish but he sounds like an inspirational character.

    Like

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