Andy Serkis seeks uplifting tone with directorial debut Breathe

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English actor Andy Serkis, perhaps best known for his motion-capture roles like Gollum in The Lord Of The Rings trilogy and Caesar in The Planet Of The Apes series, intentionally avoided a sombre tone in his directorial debut Breathe.

Opening here tomorrow, the film is inspired by the parents of its producer Jonathan Cavendish. Robin and Diana (played by Andrew Garfield and Claire Foy), defied medical convention after Robin was paralysed by polio in his 20s and later blazed a trail as disability rights advocates.

"We took licence, and I took licence with elevating it and slightly lifting it," Serkis said.

Reviewers have been comparing Breathe unfavourably with The Theory Of Everything (2014), a biopic about Stephen Hawking for which Eddie Redmayne won a Best Actor Oscar.

"This is very much a crude copy, its noble intentions hobbled by a trite script, flat characters and a relentlessly saccharine tone that eventually starts to grate," a reviewer at The Hollywood Reporter wrote.

The couple are portrayed falling in love in an idyllic English countryside scene at the opening before honeymooning in Kenya and discovering they are expecting a child, Jonathan, just before Robin's early-onset polio hits.

They later enlist a friend to create the first battery-powered mobile respirator mounted on a wheelchair and then push for them to be made widely available to those with polio.

"The essence of Robin and Diana was not drab in any sense, it was not murky or gray or sombre, it was bright, they burned bright," said Serkis. - REUTERS