This is a heartbreaking, inspiring love story. It won’t last long on the big screen, so keep it in mind.
In his directorial debut, Actor Andy Serkis (Golum in The Lord of the Rings and Caesar in War for the Planet of the Apes) brings to the big screen a love story that will melt your hardened heart. Based on a true story, Andrew Garfield and Claire Foy play Robin and Diana Cavendish, a British married couple who inspire each other. It begins with their trip to Kenya in 1958, and a tragedy unfolds that devastates them as well as those in the audience.
Robin comes down with polio and is quickly paralyzed from the neck down. Flown back to England after his wife gives birth to their son, he is confined to a hospital using an artificial respirator where he is expected to remain for life. Slowly gaining the ability to speak, he only wants to die.
Ms. Foy is brilliant as a wife who won’t succumb to her paralyzed husband’s depression and rejection. In the process, she challenges medical procedure and arranges for her husband to be transported home despite the fact that he is only expected to live several months. What you then see unfold is two lovers finding strength and meaning in each other’s company.
Incredibly, Robin founf a reason to live with the help of a large group of friends led by his wife’s twin brothers. He is further aided by Teddy Hall (Hugh Bonneville who was recently seen in Viceroy’s House), who invents various motorized wheelchairs with attached breathing apparatus that allows paralyzed patients to leave the hospital and rejoin the real world.
There are some great moments in this film, not the least of which involves our couple and friends challenging contemporary norms in order to restore a bit of hope and honor to those losing the use of their arms and legs. These patients were treated in the same fashion as prison inmates, and the movie extends a bit of dignity to the human race that makes it memorable.
Mr. Garfield adds to a legacy recently displayed in his Oscar nominated role in Hacksaw Ridge (2016), A Social Network and Never Let Me Go (both 2010). And Ms. Foy again demonstrates her talents seen in The Crown where she won an Emmy. When you see her lay next to a husband who could not even touch her, you are reminded why great love stories have been treasured since the invention of film.