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Breathe: Movie Review

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With his new film, Breathe, Andy Serkis is the latest actor to try his hand at directing a film. Many have done this over the years. People such as Ben Affleck and Clint Eastwood have found great success in their directorial attempts. Then you have others like Tim Allen and Johnny Depp who weren’t able to do quite as well as they probably hoped. So, where exactly does Serkis fall on this long line of actors-turned-directors?

Breathe is the real-life story Robin Cavendish (Andrew Garfield), a British man who becomes paralyzed from the neck down after being stricken with polio. After being told that Robin would never be able to leave the hospital, he and his wife Diana (Claire Foy) begin their fight to create a better world for those with physical disabilities.

From the beginning, Breathe appears ready to become a boring, heavy-handed biopic. The film wastes little time in bringing our two protagonists together. It jumps right into the story and within a couple of minutes our protagonists are madly in love. Despite jumping right into the story without wasting time on much of their backstory, the film still manages to move at a slow, dull pace for the first 15-20 minutes. Somewhere along the way, however, Breathe finds it’s footing and turns into a very emotional, compelling story. This shift in tone is crucial to allow the film to have fun and be charming.

As far as performances go, Andrew Garfield delivers one of the best performances of his career. He is able to say so much with only his facial expressions. He fully demonstrates a wide range of emotions and makes the audience truly care about him. Garfield loses himself in this character and when I was watching him, all I saw was Robin Cavendish. This story isn’t just about Robin, however. Serkis does a fantastic job in making sure to really flesh out Diana. To put it simply, Robin wouldn’t have accomplished everything that he did if Diana hadn’t been there every step of the way. That’s how I feel about the performances that Garfield and Foy gave. Yes, Andrew Garfield gave a tremendous performance but if it weren’t for an equally great (if not better) performance from Claire Foy, then it wouldn’t have meant as much.

The camerawork used here really stood out to me. There are plenty of wonderful scenic shots throughout Breathe that make the film a treat to look at.  The use of color is some of the best I’ve seen in film all year and makes almost every frame come to life. One of my favorite things that were done in this film was the way the camera was used to place the audience in Robin’s place. Every time Robin is in a position where his view of the world is somehow distorted, the camera is placed right there with him. That may seem like a small thing to do but its effective in showing even the smallest ways in which Robin was affected by his condition.

Breathe is the type of film that usually gets a ton of attention at the Oscars. Unfortunately for Breathe, however, I think the competition appears to be very tough and I don’t think it has many chances outside of the acting and maybe cinematography. Regardless, it is a beautiful film and an important story that I was unaware of until I saw this film. It is a wonderful directorial debut for Andy Serkis that will make you want to see whatever he makes next.

Breathe (2017)
Director:  Andy Serkis
Studio:  Bleeker Street
Genre:  Drama, Romance
MPAA:  PG-13
Release Date:  October 20th, 2017
Author:  Eddie Lopez
Eddie Lopez Eduardo Lopez grew up in the hot deserts of the Imperial Valley (El Centro, CA) but now resides in San Diego. Eddie is a recent graduate from San Diego State University with a degree in Television, Film, and New Media. He grew up on classic horror movies but loves movies of every genre and every decade. Aside from talking about movies, Eddie enjoys writing screenplays and hopes to one day have one of his scripts made into an actual film.

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