Director Andy Serkis and company have crafted a moral fable which calls to the intrepid in all of us. An allegorical experience which incorporates flashback, point of view and close up camera styles to illustrate the limitless emotional capacity on show.
This quintessentially English drama penned by William Nicholson is high gloss, rose tinted and contains subtlety emotive subject matter. Anchored by Andrew Garfield and Claire Foy as husband and wife, Breathe also showcases the formidable talents of Andy Serkis in his role as first time director. Concisely sketched characters and solid story telling combine to bring together an ensemble cast which includes Tom Hollander, Hugh Bonneville and Jonathan Hyde.
Similar to The Theory of Everything in its depiction of burgeoning relationships, seismic circumstantial shifts and humanity’s ability to overcome adversity, Breathe differs in only one way. Both Garfield and Eddie Redmayne gave us emotional performances from beneath layers of enforced physical restriction and both retain their humanity. It is my contention that the profile of each real life character is the only thing which denies Breathe similar levels of adulation.
Both Felicity Jones and Claire Foy are interchangeable in terms of their dramatic contribution, which is matched only by their respective co-stars. Each has an ensemble cast of eclectic British talent who work around the central relationship, enriching, expanding but never overshadowing. That one deals with eminent physicist Stephen Hawking, while Breathe focuses on polio survivor Robin Cavendish is precisely the point. Neither story is more cinematic, more emotionally inspiring or grounded by a less stunningly understated central performance. Neither man outstripped the other in terms of worldwide impact, yet Breathe remains under the radar.
That Robin Cavendish’s son Jonathan co-founded The Imaginarium with Serkis and they have made it a landmark in motion capture performance should not be overstated. From revolutionising the art form then continuing that progression through collaborations worldwide, Breathe represents more than a director’s first feature. There is lineage at work behind the scenes as cinematic limitations, similar to disabled preconceptions have been broken down, challenged and reinterpreted for a new generation. Breathe is more than just the celebration of a life hard fought, emotional tragedies bested and adversities overcome. In this deceptive depiction of Middle England lurks more than just a concisely told true life tale.
William Nicholson, Andy Serkis, Andrew Garfield and company have crafted a moral fable which calls to the intrepid in all of us. An allegorical experience which incorporates flashback, point of view and close up camera styles to illustrate the limitless emotional capacity on show. A seemingly small film which gradually pushes against the constraints of its dramatic canvas, leaving you with an unshakeable connection with the content. Serkis takes universal themes, creates real human drama, yet keeps it intimate enough for events to have a personal impact on the audience.
Written by Martin Carr
Directed by: Andy Serkis
Written by: William Nicholson
Starring: Andrew Garfield, Claire Foy, Tom Hollander, Hugh Bonneville
Released: 2017 / Genre: Biographical Drama
Country: USA/UK / IMDB
Breathe is released on Digital Download on Feb 19 and on Blu-ray and DVD on Feb 26.