TIFF17 | Breathe Shares a True Love Story with an Inspiring Disabled Hero

An inspiring true story of love, courage, and determination, Breathe is the directorial debut of British actor Andy Serkis (famed voice of Gollum in Lord of the Rings) and stars Oscar nominee Andrew Garfield as Robin Cavendish, the accidental activist and innovator who helped make the world a more navigable place for the disabled.

Robin and Diana (The Crown’s Claire Foy) fall madly in love, and honeymoon in Kenya, a journey that also provides Robin with an opportunity to tend to his tea brokerage. Their happiness soon turns to horror as the couple discovers Diana is pregnant just as Robin, aged 28, is stricken with polio, leaving him paralyzed from the neck down and plugged-in to a respirator. Robin finds himself understandably depressed, feeling that his life is essentially over, though his loving wife, who refuses to give up on him, offers him hope by thinking outside of the box.

Ignoring their doctor’s orders (who insists Robin will die outside of hospital care within two weeks), they decide to make the risky move home. Along the way, Robin and Diana become accidental advocates to the de-marginalized and disabled, campaigning for disability rights and developing transformative technologies, such as respirator wheelchairs and hydraulic lifts.

Breathe leaves its audience breathless (and you’re certain to shed a tear or two), showcasing how a couple’s deeply rooted love can defy all odds. It’s also an essential historical film, offering a glimpse into how far the medical community has come from the simple mandate of keeping the disabled alive to ensuring they’re inspired as can be.

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