The motion-capture actor Andy Serkis makes his directorial debut with a touching if a tad predictable story of inspiring courage in the face of devastating disability. Paralyzed from the neck down by polio in 1958, Robin Cavendish (Andrew Garfield) defies contemporary medical practice to survive decades on a motorized respirator, thanks mainly to his loving wife Diana (Claire Foy).
Serkis achieves a careful balance with a film that tastefully covers some delicate territory (their sex life; his right to die), avoids the maudlin and injects some surprising if not entirely successful comedy into the mix. Aided by Foy's determined Diana and Garfield's impish Robin, he portrays the Cavendishes mainly as people who face all that life throws at them with optimism and amusement.
As they move onward and upward, the only real suspense is whether someone is going to trip over an electric cord and unplug the crucial respirator. But if the Cavendishes can face everything with so much good humour, it's the least an audience can do, too.