Breathe Parent Guide
Love is the best medicine.
Parent Movie Review
Robin and Diana Cavendish (Andrew Garfield and Claire Foy) are living the dream. Young, wildly in love, and expecting their first child, they are enjoying an adventurous life in Kenya where Robin works as a tea broker. Then, over the course of one awful night, everything changes. Robin has been stricken with polio and is paralyzed from the neck down.
Diana springs into action, and as soon as their son is born, she has Robin transferred back home to England. But as Robin settles into the hospital, paralyzed and dependent on a respirator to breathe, he gives into despair and asks to die. Feisty Diana fights back. “There must be something I can do to make things more bearable,” she says to her bedbound husband. “Get me out of here,” Robin whispers. This becomes Diana’s mission. Working with friends, Diana moves Robin home where he can watch their son grow up.
But Robin does much more than watch. With their friend Teddy Hall (Hugh Bonneville), university professor and inventor, he hatches ideas for battery-operated portable respirators that allow Robin to leave home. They dream up hydraulic lifts to get his wheelchair into a van. And Robin goes on road trips, even speaking at an international convention for the severely disabled. Speaking to the professionals there, he challenges them, “When you look at me what do you see? Do you see a creature that’s barely alive or do you see a man that’s escaped from the confines of the hospital walls?” While freeing himself, Robin changes the lives of thousands of severely disabled people around the world.
Robin’s success does not occur in a vacuum. Aside from his inventor friend, he and Diana are surrounded by scores of helpful and encouraging friends and relatives – so much so that this film is a tribute to human kindness. Diana’s childhood nanny, Tid (Penny Downie) looks after young Jonathan for free because “your family is my family”. And a gentleman sells his home to Diana at far below the market rate. These examples of compassion and neighborliness are as refreshing as they are heartwarming. But the real beating heart of this film is Diana’s. Her love and selfless devotion are awe-inspiring; all the more so because Diana doesn’t see herself as remarkable. As Robin prepares to die, Diana tells him, “You’ve given me a wonderful life.” And she means it.
Parents considering Breathe for their teens will have to weigh some significant pros and cons. On the plus side, this movie shows a marriage of profound love and faithfulness and movingly delivers powerful messages about the importance of family and sacrifice. On the minus side, there are some potentially disturbing medical scenes. But the biggest concern will be around the issue of assisted suicide. Although Robin chooses to live after his initial paralysis, decades later his lungs are gradually being destroyed by the actions of the respirator and he is warned that he is going to drown in his own blood. At this point, he decides to die. His assisted suicide is not shown on screen, but its effects on his family and friends are. Whatever viewers may feel about assisted suicide, there is no doubt that this movie will serve as a springboard for discussion on this controversial and emotionally laden topic.
Breathe is an emotionally affecting film, one that will make viewers hold spouses and children close and count their blessings. And whisper a sincere thank you to Jonas Salk for his polio vaccine.Directed by Andy Serkis. Starring Diana Rigg, Claire Foy, Andrew Garfield. Running time: 117 minutes. Theatrical release October 13, 2017. Updated March 16, 2020
Watch the trailer for Breathe
Rating & Content Info
Why is Breathe rated PG-13? Breathe is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for mature thematic material including some bloody medical images.
Violence: There are bloody medical images, including a scalpel making a cut for a tracheotomy, bleeds from a tracheotomy. There are moments of peril when a ventilator breaks. There is frequent mention of suicide and an assisted suicide, although the actual act is not shown.
Sexual Content: A married couple kiss on several occasions, and are seen kissing in bed. A man gives his wife permission to have an affair. She refuses and kisses him.
Profanity: We counted four profanities in this film, including one term of deity.
Alcohol / Drug Use: There is regular social drinking, although not to the point of inebriation. Characters are seen smoking.
Page last updated March 16, 2020
Breathe Parents' Guide
Robin chooses to live so he can see his son grow up. But his choice has greater ramifications. Do you think he ever imagined that he would have a global impact and improve the lives of the disabled because of his choice? Do you ever consider that your own decisions might have consequences you can’t imagine?
When Robin’s lungs start to bleed, he decides it is time to die. What do you think about assisted suicide? Do you think it is morally wrong or do you think it is an individual right?
Loved this movie? Try these books…
Interested in knowing more about the disease that paralyzed Robin? Try historian David M Oshinsky’s Polio: An American Story.
What If the Glass Breaks: Life of a Disability Activist by Patricia Sampson Harkness tells the story of her father, Bob Sampson. Born with muscular dystrophy, Bob fought to overcome low expectations and restrictions placed around his abilities. Rising to become president of a major airline, Bob initiated numerous changes making it possible for the disabled to fly.
Totally paralyzed by a stroke, able to move only his left eyelid, Jean-Dominique Bauby, wrote his haunting memoir, The Diving-Bell and the Butterfly by blinking that eyelid and spelling out the book letter by letter.
News About "Breathe"
Robin Cavendish may have been paralyzed by polio, but his fight to make his condition better eventually freed many other disabled people facing similar circumstances.
Learn more about Polio, a virus that affects the muscle (including those that help a person breathe) and can cause paralysis, permanent disability and death. The disease is now commonly combated by a preventive vaccine.
From the Studio:
When Robin ((Andrew Garfield) is struck down by polio at the age of 28, he is confined to a hospital bed and given only a few months to live. With the help of Diana's twin brothers (Tom Hollander) and the groundbreaking ideas of inventor Teddy Hall (Hugh Bonneville), Robin and Diana dare to escape the hospital ward to seek out a full and passionate life together - raising their young son, traveling and devoting their lives to helping other polio patients.
Written by Bleecker Street
The most recent home video release of Breathe movie is January 2, 2018. Here are some details…Breathe releases to home video (Blu-ray) on January 2, 2018. Bonus features include:
- Deleted Scenes
- The Story Behind Breathe
Related home video titles:
Another film about a man confined to a wheelchair is The Intouchables.
Me Before You is another story about disability, love, and assisted suicide.
My Left Foot (1989) is a classic film about a man whose artistic abilities were not limited by his severe cerebral palsy.