For those who have been following me any time at all, you know I’m not one to watch many films. I’m all about the books. But every now and then, I’ll spy a trailer for a film that looks as if it simply must be watched. Such was the case with Breathe.
Breathe is the true-to-life story of Robin Cavendish who caught polio in 1958 at the age of twenty-eight while in Kenya with his wife, Diana. Robin’s initial reaction to his complete paralysis and inability to breathe without mechanical assistance was to die, and he requested his wife turn off the machine allowing him to do so.
Diana, pregnant with their son, refused to let Robin die. She made it clear that she did not wish to start over with anyone else. Rather, with love-conquers-all determination, she told Robin that she wanted their son, Jonathan, to know him and asked what she could do. To Robin’s reply of “get me out of here,” Diana helped him escape the confines of the hospital and the narrow-minded physician who would have her husband live his remaining days not only physically disabled but disabled in spirit as well.
I won’t spoil the movie for you by detailing the adventures Robin and Diana enjoyed, but I will say that what could have been a depressing movie was actually quite uplifting. Robin and Diana became advocates for improving the quality of life for disabled people. The best part was that Robin lived more than three decades longer than he was supposed to. Still, you will need a box of tissues when the film comes to its conclusion.
Prior to watching Breathe, I admit I wasn’t a fan of Andrew Garfield. My first encounter with the actor was the disturbing movie Boy A in which he played a child murderer. When combined with his less than memorable stints as Spiderman, his role in the disconcerting film Never Let Me Go, and his part in the disaster The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, I didn’t bother following his career. I understand his acting in Hacksaw Ridge was quite good, but I have difficulty watching war movies no matter how much my son begs me.
Perhaps starring in the dismal films was simply a means of paying his dues until the better roles came along. Whatever the reason, Andrew Garfield has finally earned my respect for his acting in Breathe. Let’s hope he can continue to be offered such roles as I would be interested to see how he matures as an actor.