For a film referred to as “Breathe,” Andy Serkis’ directorial debut is curiously airless — or perhaps simply quintessentially British, all stiff higher lip and lightweight on emoting. However that is emotional stuff: It’s the true story of Robin (Andrew Garfield) and Diana (Claire Foy) Cavendish, who triumphed over a devastating polio analysis for Robin in 1958 that was predicted to go away him bedridden, paralyzed after which lifeless in a matter of months. Robin’s son, Jonathan, produced, which provides the movie an unassailable the Aristocracy and the ring of fact — however veracity and good intentions don’t all the time translate to forcing cinema.
For starters, Serkis rushes via the budding romance between Robin and Diana — a meet-cute at a cricket match, a drive within the nation — earlier than they’re married and dwelling in Kenya, the place Robin contracts the illness. Garfield and Foy are pretty collectively, nevertheless it’s exhausting to understand their characters’ demise-defying romantic bond if in case you have little sense of what it was like pre-polio.
As a result of that is Serkis, grasp of the digital movement-seize efficiency, we get a flicker of technological wizardry: The actor Tom Hollander performs Diana’s twin brothers, similar however simply totally different sufficient to make you marvel if Hollander has a heretofore unknown twin. Hugh Bonneville (“Downton Abbey”) is Teddy Corridor, an inventor who collaborates with Robin on the Cavendish chair, a wheelchair outfitted with a respirator that allowed polio victims to flee the confines of a hospital.
Garfield’s face should do a lot of the appearing right here, and rises to the event with an impish grin and a raspy, posh wheeze of a voice. Foy, the heavy hitter from the Netflix collection “The Crown,” tasks steely determinism, though she’s not often referred to as upon to exhibit what full-time look after her husband, and their younger son, should have been like.
“Breathe” is a candy valentine to a few who improved the lives of numerous severely disabled polio victims, so it’s arduous to gripe an excessive amount of about its actuality-based mostly shortcomings. Serkis does excel on the lovely moments: a sluggish dance towards a Kenyan sundown, an impromptu roadside fiesta in Spain, the enjoyment on Robin’s face as he takes his first spin on the chair. I left dry-eyed however charmed — a pleasant change of tempo on this typically gloom-crammed film season.