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’