Monday 22 January 2018

Neil breathes life into tragic documentary

I Am Breathing tells the story of Neil Platt who died of Motor Neuron Disease.
I Am Breathing tells the story of Neil Platt who died of Motor Neuron Disease.

Paul Whitington

Film Review: I Am Breathing (No Cert, Light House, 106 minutes) 3 STARS

Director: Emma Davie, Morag McKinnon Stars: Neil Platt, Louise Platt, Oscar Platt

Only a stone would be unmoved by the plight of Neil Platt, the jovial narrator and stoical star of this harrowing little documentary.

In October of 2007, Neil had achieved his dream of becoming a working architect and had just had a son with his wife Louise when he noticed that things weren't quite right with his feet. His toes had gone numb, he could no longer lift them and as a consequence had started to limp. It was, most unfortunately, the onset of Motor Neuron Disease, which is known as Lou Gehrig's Disease in America and attacks the human body with terrifying efficiency.

A failure in the brain causes rapid physical deterioration, leaving sufferers unable to walk, swallow and ultimately breathe.

There's no cure and no one has ever survived the disease, as Neil knew only too well: his father had succumbed to it at 50. Neil died in 2009, and in I Am Breathing we watch him heartbreakingly deteriorate.

Surprisingly, though, the film is nothing like as depressing as that summary sounds.

First of all there's Neil's irreverent attitude to the whole thing, and stubborn refusal to sit there doing nothing. He started an online blog to describe his experiences and highlight this dreadful disease which seems shamefully under-researched.

Then there's Neil's wife, Louise, whose grace under pressure is quite extraordinary.

The hardest thing for Neil was knowing he'd never see his young son Oscar grow up, but he carefully assembled a box of possessions that would explain his character to the boy.

This film should help Oscar too.

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