Breathe Movie Review

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Though I’ve missed more movies than I’ve wanted to this year, I made sure to catch this one. The main reason was that I wanted to see what Andy Serkis had in store for us with his directorial debut. Yes, Gollum/Caesar is directing this movie! His version of The Jungle Book could never get off the ground, likely because Jon Favreau’s was so great, but I was still excited to see what he could do with this story. Also, Andrew Garfield is coming off two Oscar-worthy performances. If Garfield nabbed the Best Actor statue from Casey Affleck or Denzel Washington, I wouldn’t have been surprised at all. Let’s talk about Breathe!

Breathe is directed by Andy Serkis and stars Andrew Garfield, Claire Foy, Tom Hollander, and Hugh Bonneville. Robin, played by Andrew Garfield, is an athletic, loving, and adventurous young man with a full life ahead of him. Shortly after marrying, he contracts polio, and learns that he will be breathe through a tube inserted into his esophagus and be bed-ridden for what’s left of his life, an amount of time shorter than he had anticipated. Given the choice to sit back and accept what has happened, he decides not to let his disease get the best of him, and he makes his way out in the world to pave a better path for those facing the same issues as he does.

Though I think this movie will get some flak for being sappy, I did like it very much. I think that the main reason is because it was handled with so much care. I won’t reveal why it’s so obvious that the artists loved the subject matter because I want you to be pleasantly surprised at the end of the movie, but there is a reason, and it feels perfectly handled. The story is given so much respect, and it’s told in a way that I imagine those closes to the main character would have wanted it told. It did get that emotional response out of me that I look for in films like this, and I think it’s all because real care went into this. Breathe doesn’t feel like a carbon-copy of every single studio film where a studio writer has been brought on to work with any ol’ director. The choices in this story were carefully made, and this is passion-driven filmmaking at its finest. Staying in that same ballpark, this movie is extremely cheerful for a film in which the main character is unable to breathe by himself and comes face-to-face with death by suffocation multiple times. I would assume that the real people in this story would have wanted a positive, uplifting film as compared to a movie that beats us over the head with sadness and negativity. The positive outlook made our main characters so much fun to watch, and I would always wonder how they would spin certain situations to bring out the best in each other. Tons of credit has to go to these performances as well. Garfield doesn’t get to raise his voice or use body language to illustrate his feelings. He gives a beautiful, subtle performance, and the film is better for it. He and Claire Foy also have great chemistry. It’s like one always understands what the other is thinking or what the other is about to do, and they flowed together effortlessly. I also loved what Andy Serkis did with the movie. There are points where it feels like it was shot in the Golden Age of Hollywood, and I think it truly showed how Serkis doesn’t have to come out for his directorial debut and surprise us with a flashy flick. He just shows that he’s passionate about film and the story he’s telling through his medium.

I mentioned that I think that the movie will get a lot of criticism for being too sappy. Though that’s not something that ruined my enjoyment of the film, I understand why someone would say that. There are many emotional, hold-your-breath moments that do sometimes feel like they’re playing us and using us to elicit a certain emotional response. I also think that all of those moments can be too much, too soon in the film. With the constant tear-jerkers, it’s really difficult to be invested in every single one of them. Though the ending definitely has a punch, I was pretty drained from the first two acts to really appreciate the third act and the ending.

Overall, I liked Breathe because I think it’s coming from a place of passion. This is a true passion project for most of the crew, and I felt that emanating from the screen so naturally. If this family’s story was going to be told, I’m very glad that it was in the hands of this producer, this director, and this cast. It’s also an overwhelmingly positive movie for a film about a man overcoming polio. It could have constantly thrown negativity at the audience, but it never does. It continues to one-up itself with the positivity. I do think that it can come off as sappy, and it exhausted me a bit too early, but knowing that everything in the film is coming from the right place with the right intentions allows me to jump on-board a bit more than I would have if it were just another studio production. I’m going to give Breathe a 7/10.

Will you be seeing Breathe this weekend? Comment down in the comment section and let me know! As always, thank you, and keep listening to 88.7 The Pulse!

About Justin Lyons

Hey, it’s Justin Lyons! I am the Chief Film Critic for The Pulse. Have any questions for me? Please feel free to email me at [email protected]