TIFF 2017 Review: ‘Breathe’ is Incredible, Inspiring, and Life-Affirming Journey

TIFF 2017 Review: Breathe is Incredible, Inspiring, and Life-Affirming Journey. 

Breathe is the directorial debut from actor Andy Serkis. The film is a biopic based on the life of Robin Cavendish played by Andrew Garfield. At the age of 28, Robin is diagnosed with polio and as a result, is paralyzed from the neck down. The doctors give Robin only three months to live, but with a baby on the way, his wife Diana (Claire Foy) hopes that he will find the strength to fight for his life. With the help of his friend Teddy Hall (Hugh Bonneville), Robin is able to go against the odds and return home where he is able to live a normal life and inspire millions of disabled people from all around the world.

I honestly knew nothing about Cavendish family before seeing the film. Robin and Diana Cavendish story is remarkable and inspirational. Their story proves that taking a risk, even if the cards are stacked against you, can change your life. Robin Cavendish took the risk and as a result lived a truly remarkable life. What makes his story even more amazing is that he was able to help millions of people because of the risk that he took. He was in a lot of ways a major game changer for the mobilization of those with disabilities.

Andrew Garfield deliveres a tour-de-force performance that will leave you in tears. I was blown away by Garfield’s performance as Robin Cavendish because unlike his previous roles; this one relied solely on his facial mannerisms and voice. For about 90% of the film, Garfield is lying in bed or sitting in a wheelchair. Garfield does such an incredible job becoming Robin and bringing his story to life. You can feel both the pain and happiness in Garfield’s eyes. While Garfield is acting, he is also playing tribute to a man that was determined to live his life instead of lying helplessly in a bed in a hospital. Garfield brings such an incredible amount of heart and dedication to this role. It is an Oscar Worthy performance and one that reflects a man who despite having being diagnosed with a life-changing condition still has the drive to do things with his life such as spend time with his family and travel around the world.  

Claire Foy was the perfect casting decision to play Robin’s wife, Diana. In 2016, Foy came out of nowhere and blew everyone away with her performance as Queen Elizabeth II in The Crown. As Diana Cavendish, Foy has once again taken on a role that will get audiences talking.  Diana is a very strong female but is also the driving force behind Robin’s desire to live. There is an intimate moment in the film where the Robin and Diana are lying in bed and say “my love, my life” back and forth to one another. This is such a touching and heartfelt moment because you can tell how much they love one another despite how hard they had to fight to overcome their unfortunate circumstances.

Hugh Bonneville is the most noteworthy of the film’s supporting cast. He plays Robin’s friend Teddy and is the brilliant mind behind the motorized wheelchair with a respirator attached. Robin is able to visit various countries because Teddy has created the technology to make it possible. Bonneville captures how smart and passionate Teddy was and how he worked with Robin to better his life as well as others. 

Andy Serkis has found an amazing story to tell with his directorial debut. The film is an incredible and emotional journey that will leave you breathless. Serkis not only brings Robin and Diane’s remarkable and beautiful story to life but he also creates a film that is incredibly beautiful to look at. The shots of Kenya, as well as Spain, are stunning.  Serkis captures the small intimate conversations between Robin and Diana with such ease and honesty.  Serkis has shown great promise sitting in the director’s chair, and I am curious to see what topic he decides to tackle next. 

Breathe is an incredible, inspiring, and life-affirming journey. It tells a remarkable true story about going against the odds and living life to the fullest. This is a film that will make you laugh, make you think, and make you cry.  If you somehow make it through the last 20-30 minutes of this film without shedding a tear, you might want to check your pulse because you might be dead inside. Breathe is an emotional roller-coaster ride that celebrates life along with all its ups and downs.

Scott ‘Movie Man’ Menzel’s rating for Breathe is a 9 out of 10.

Written by
Born in New Jersey, Scott Menzel has been watching film and television since he was three years old. Growing up, he watched as many movies as he could and was highly influenced by the films of Tim Burton, John Hughes, Robert Zemeckis, and Steven Spielberg. Scott has an Associate's Degree in Marketing, a Bachelor's in Mass Media, Communications, and a Master's in Electronic Media. He has been writing film reviews under the alias of MovieManMenzel since 2003 and started his writing career as a contributing critic at and In 2009, Scott launched where he posted several of his film reviews but in 2011 decided to shut down the site when he launched We Live In 2015, We Live Film became We Live Entertainment. The domain name change occurred after months of debate but was done so that he and his fellow staff members could write about anything and everything in the world of entertainment.

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