The BFI London Film Festival opened in familiar territory with a repeat of the beige-tinted past we saw at last year’s opening gala with A United Kingdom.
Breathe is the last film you would expect to mark Andy Serkis’ directorial debut as it includes no cutting edge motion capture performances and instead resembles a pair of safety scissors. Breathe is a safe choice in every way; it is a safe first film, a safe opening gala, and a safe choice to show your gran on a Sunday afternoon. Breathe is the quintessential (white) British period drama with the BFI and BBC logos proudly showcased at the start of the film.
The story is heartwarming; a young couple (Andrew Garfield and Claire Foy) have their idyllic existence interrupted when the husband contracts polio, is paralysed and relies on a ventilator to breathe. Given weeks to live near the start of the film events then take a turn for the uplifting as the couple defy all odds, and doctor’s advice, and go on to live full and happy lives with help from friends, privilege, and a stiff upper lip. Despite the rousing real life plot and some determined lead performance the resulting film is underwhelming.
Though better than I was originally expecting Breathe is a lightweight entry into the warm British historical romance canon with a look indistinguishable from its cousins. One to wait for on ITV I’d say.
Breathe is in UK cinemas from 27th October.