Breathe

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Living - - CINEMA - HI­LARY A WHITE

Cert: 12A; Now show­ing

There is a pal­pa­ble feel­ing of things about to take a turn for the worse in this sun-dap­pled biopic of English po­lio ad­vo­cate Robin Cavendish. It’s when we see the young so­ci­ety lad (played by An­drew Garfield) smooching true love Diana (Claire Foy), both pretty as a pic­ture in the Kenyan sun­set, that you know all the tally-hos, leg-be­forewick­ets and pitch­ers of Pimm’s are about to come to a halt.

It’s 1958 when Robin, only 28, falls over dur­ing a ten­nis match be­fore be­ing rushed to a Nairobi hos­pi­tal and di­ag­nosed with the ill­ness that would quickly paral­yse him from the neck down. Diana takes an ed­u­cated gam­ble by spring­ing her hus­band from hos­pi­tal along with the res­pi­ra­tor that he’ll need for the rest of his days. The great woman’s val­our helps Robin crawl out of de­pres­sion and re­gain the chip­per de­meanour of his ear­lier years. Robin will not be bro­ken and be­comes de­ter­mined to out­live his mis­er­able three­month prog­no­sis. With the help of his friends, he be­comes the poster­boy for a more in­clu­sive role in so­ci­ety for the dis­abled.

Garfield, act­ing from the chin up, is right at home in the plummy en­vi­rons and duly ex­cels, as does the ex­cel­lent Foy. Hugh Bon­neville and Tom Hol­lan­der, mean­while, make for charm­ing but­tresses. Andy Serkis, the great mo­tion-cap­ture mas­ter, makes his direc­to­rial de­but with a charm­ing and jaunty film that de­spite its sober­ing sub­ject mat­ter blooms into a big creamy slice of cin­e­matic sponge cake.

An­drew Garfield and Claire Foy in ‘Breathe’

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