Making his directorial debut, although he technically already directing The Jungle Book, Andy Serkis presents the astonishing story of Robin and Diana Cavendish. At a special screening of the film, Serkis explained his reasoning for working on the film, the difficulties he had when shooting and whether his move to the director’s chair will be a permanent one. Although Serkis’ production company Imaginarium Productions specialises in motion-capture, Serkis admitted this was a script that he really wanted to work on. Breathe offers a great insight into what Serkis’ directorial style may be, and it makes me excited to see what he has to come.
Breathe is a traditional British film and Serkis shot the film in a romantic way, confirming that this is a romance film at the heart. Serkis explained how he worked closely with his director of photography to create beautiful shots. One of my favourite, which is revisited in the film, is the shot of the two leads dancing in front of the African sunlight. Serkis described the difficulties the team had trying to get the perfect shot whilst being restricted with a limited time to shoot a fading sunset. Serkis also created difficulty for himself by having to shoot some scenes twice, thus creating identical twins played by the hilarious Tom Hollander. One scene, in particular, he described having to synchronise wheeling bicycles as Diana and the twins walked in between them, using computerised cameras that map the movement of the camera and then re-creates this.
Andrew Garfield continues to pick projects that help showcase his amazing acting talent, clearly still scorned from being dropped from The Amazing Spiderman franchise. Although I don’t think is as good as his incredible performance in last year’s Hacksaw Ridge, Garfield helps humanise the character, especially in his scenes with his son. I think the character’s scenes in the hospital were the most emotional, bringing to light the suicidal thoughts people with severe disability go through when accepting their condition, a brave plot point from producer Jonathan Cavendish who produced his parent’s story. Garfield’s biggest scene is his speech at the disability conference in Germany, if he is going to be nominated for an Oscar, it will be for that film.
From listening to Serkis’ talk about the real-life character of Diana Cavendish, it made me appreciate Claire Foy‘s performance even more. At first, I thought the character never really had that emotional scene, the scene that really gives the actor an opportunity to show what they can do. I thought Foy gave a good performance, but I would have loved to see her burst with emotion, there were glimpses in the scene on the hill, but I didn’t think it showed the actresses acting chops. Serkis explained how Diana wasn’t someone who would ever show her emotion, claiming that she only ever cried once in her life. Hearing this makes me appreciate that they decided to stay true to the true-life character, rather than over dramatise the character into something she wasn’t.
Breathe offers a great introduction into the award’s season calibre of films, and is also a great romantic film. Serkis showcases his talent for directing, and I am even more excited to see his version of The Jungle Book when it is finally released. Breathe is a quintessentially a British film, celebrating British talent both in front of and behind the camera. I don’t think the film will gain many nominations in a competitive year, but both Garfield, Foy and Serkis can expect multiple nominations in the future.
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