Film Critic Matt Taylor is enamoured with Annihilation, the second directorial effort from Alex Garland, and Netflix's latest exclusiveWritten by Redbrick Film on 20th March 2018
Film Critic Tom Smith-Wrinch applauds the emotional honesty of Andy Serkis' directorial debut Breathe
Andy Serkis take a bow. When I heard that the great man's directorial debut would be a true story starring the likes of Andrew Garfield, Claire Foy and Hugh Bonneville I was a little apprehensive. I’m more used to seeing the now director donning the personas of Caesar, Gollum and King Kong let alone direct a fully-fledged biopic, and yet despite all of my worries it is safe to say that Serkis has delivered. His film is a personal matter, given that Serkis' producing partner is Johnathan Cavendish (son of Robin Cavendish). I mean, there is always a lot to be said for such a moving film when grown men are weeping in the cinema around me (I was not one of them of course).
The film centres around Robin Cavendish, a tea-broker who contracts Polio in the late 1950’s. The film quickly focuses on his struggle against the disease; portraying the debilitating effects of his illness Serkis attempts to touch on the more serious themes of morality and instinctively the need to survive. It is through the powerful and indeed emotional acting of both Andrew Garfield (Robin) and Claire Foy (his wife Diana) that this internal conflict is explored.
“Despite all of my worries it is safe to say that Serkis has delivered
However, fundamentally the film was enjoyable. Both Garfield and Hoy indeed provide compelling performances. Besides from Garfield’s rather annoying posh accent and clichéd phrases, he ultimately captures the essence of the tragedy of Cavendish’s life. The poignancy of such matters is neatly balanced by the loving warmth of family and friends, encouraging us to see this film not so much as a bleak vision of crippling disease but rather Serkis emboldens a celebration of life, inevitably striking a similar chord with the 2014 Oscar winning “The Theory Of Everything.”
“The film itself undoubtedly would have benefited from further “grittiness”
“The film itself was ultimately as thought-provoking as it was heart-wrenching
The film itself was ultimately as thought-provoking as it was heart-wrenching. It is certain to leave audiences with a lump in their throat by the end, or at the very least, leave you wanting to know more about the life Robin Cavendish lead. As stated before, it is truly evident that the film deals with deeply personal matters and it does so with such eloquence and poignancy that they seem so utterly relatable to the audience themselves. Granted, the film suffers from what could be known as “frightfulness”, choosing not to explore in depth more obvious issues such as the public’s view on Cavendish’s polio or the Imperialistic racism of the time, adding greater profundity to the movie. However, this film does leave audiences thinking, either pitying Cavendish’s life or celebrating his accomplishments, which says a lot for this upcoming director. Well done Serkis.
Verdict: This film will either leave you elated, heart-broken, or more likely a bit of both. Regardless, it is clear that Serkis has succeeded in capturing the plight of Robin Cavendish, even with all the emotional complexities involved in such a deeply personal story.