At the Toronto International Film Festival last week, Andy Serkis spottings were a fairly regular occurrence around the festival. The actor and motion-capture magician was in town to promote Breathe, his feature debut as a director, and ever the man of the people, he was only too glad to chat for a spare moment here or there while waiting in line or getting coffee. But was this glad-handing pre-emptive damage control, or the beginning of a fledgling Oscar campaign? The latest trailer for the handsomely mounted historical drama has now arrived to give us a sense of what to expect.

Andrew Garfield assays the role of Robin Cavendish, a real-life man who contracted polio at the age of 28. In the mid-20th-century, his staunch refusal to succumb to the illness inspired a nation and made him into a pioneer for disabled advocacy. With the steadfast support of his wife (Claire Foy), he helped usher the portable iron lung into popularity and freed his polio-stricken brethren from a life lived stationary. He utters that time-tested line about wanting not to survive, but to live, and suddenly the audience knows precisely what kind of story they’re in for.

The film opens for the public on October 13, at which point audiences will decide once and for all if this is a load of lustrously-photographed poppycock or a bona fide movie. Those viewers with a little less patience, however, can peruse the early reviews out of TIFF. They’ll find only dark omens, however. The Hollywood Reporter described the film as “a soppy vanity project.” Go from there.

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