This is a heart-warming, inspirational and at times, sad film but well worth seeing. Based on a true story, the film spans across three decades as it tells the story of Robin Cavendish, his wife Diana, son Jonathon, and some of their close friends. It is beautifully filmed, with scenes taking place in Africa and in England, full of greenery and typically English countryside.
The film tells the story of Robin, who suddenly contracts polio whilst working in Africa. Totally paralysed from the neck down, he becomes a 'responaut', a term for someone wholly reliant on a machine that breathed for him. This being the late 1950s, patients with polio did not have much of a chance of any semblance of a normal life, being kept alive by ventilators and iron lungs in hospital. Robin and his wife, who is pregnant at the time of his diagnosis, decide that life in hospital is not something they want for Robin. Diana's determination and perseverance, in spite of doctors telling her otherwise, ensure that Robin can have a life outside of a hospital.
With the help of friends, Robin, Diana and Jonathan embark on a life made up of lots of love, many adventures, poignant moments and most of all, living. Despite the enormous challenges and its sad moments, the film is a testimony to a life lived well, in face of the enormous disability that Robin had. The film is also a love story, of Diana's love for her husband and her willingness to stay with him, fight for him and inspire him. Her quote "You are my love, you are my life" is no glib statement of young love.
What makes this film even more poignant and inspirational is that it is based on a true story and produced by Robin's son, Jonathan. This is a story of a man and his wife who became strong advocates for the disabled at a time when disabled people tended to be kept out of sight. Robin became one of the longest-lived 'responauts' in Britain, a medical phenomenon which saw him become an expert and advocate on how people with polio were able to live a better life.
Both actors, Andrew Garfield and Claire Foy, give a wonderful performance and the film has excellent direction by Andy Serkis, real-life friend and business partner of Jonathan Cavendish. Be prepared to shed some tears but have a few laughs as well, this film is a triumph of the heart and should not be missed.