Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Movie Review: ‘Breathe’



Any film with big Hollywood names like Andrew Garfield and Claire Foy and acclaimed actor Andy Serkis is bound to face high expectations. This was especially the case with Serkis’ debut directorial venture, “Breathe.”

The film tells the heartwarming true story of a father’s will to overcome his disability in order to be there for his child; his determination is a symbol of pure willpower.

The story revolves around Robin and Diana Cavendish, played by Garfield and Foy, respectively. At the age of 28, Robin contracts polio, leaving him paralyzed below the neck. The rest of the film shows the couple’s collective struggle, following Robin’s journey of survival as he watches his newborn child grow and pursues his mission to inspire other people with disabilities around the world.

“Breathe” is a film meant to inspire balanced with a love story. However, the film inundates viewers with facts in a way that seems ingenuine and showcases only a small fraction of Robin’s struggles with his paralysis.

This is not to say that the facts themselves are ingenuine; the movie was produced by Robin’s son Jonathan Cavendish, after all. The problem is merely that the story has been censored to fit within the confines of a Hollywood romance.

Despite the film’s touching subject matter, Serkis often neglects proper pacing.

The film constantly rushes from one frame to the next without giving the viewers time to register or understand what has happened. Within the first 20 minutes of the film, the viewer is introduced to Robin, Robin meets Diana, they are married in Kenya and they find out they are expecting a baby.

The problem with this compression of time is that the viewer is hardly able to connect or empathize with the characters. Unfortunately, this acceleration of time is a constant feature throughout the movie.

The film employs several interesting literary devices to further its plot.

For instance, Robin’s disability and wish to die is foreshadowed in a frame of narrative irony when, in Kenya, the Cavendish family is told a story of a captured group of militants who all died in captivity simply because their leader gave them permission to do so.

Robin later says before an audience of doctors, “I went on living because she told me to,” referring to his wife Diana. This thought is echoed later on in the movie to compound a sense of finality lurking over the film.

In terms of acting performances, both Garfield and Foy should be commended for their genuine portrayals of the Cavendish couple. Without them, Diana’s devotion to Robin’s survival would have been lost in the confusion of ever-changing time frames. Garfield and Foy’s performances deserve the accolades to which the movie aspires.

Ultimately, “Breathe” presents a phenomenal tale of survival carried by the lead actors’ performances, though it is unfortunately convoluted by the rushed pacing and confusing treatment of time. The film often leaves the viewer frustrated and longing for more detail; however, it still successfully conveys its touching message.

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