3 user 24 critic

I Am Breathing (2013)

A documentary follows the last months of Neil Platt, a young father with terminal and debilitating motor neuron disease (MND).


Neil Platt
3 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »


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Credited cast:
Neil Platt Neil Platt ... Himself


I AM BREATHING reminds us what it is to be alive - a tale of fun and laughs with a smattering of upset and devastation. Within a year, Neil Platt goes from being a healthy 30-something British bloke with a great sense of humor to becoming completely paralyzed from the neck down, thanks to the devastating illness he has inherited - known as ALS, MND, or Lou Gehrig's Disease. As his body gets weaker, his perspective on life changes. His humor remains, but new wisdom emerges: "It's amazing how adaptable we are when we have to be. It's what separates us and defines us as human beings." Knowing he only has a few months left to live, and while he still has the ability to speak, Neil puts together a letter and memory box for his baby son Oscar and communicates his experience and thoughts about life in a blog - and in this film which he was determined to make. The directness of his communication mingles with images of the sensory details of a life well lived, and makes us revalue the ordinary... Written by Anonymous

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Denmark | UK



Release Date:

6 September 2013 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Eu Respiro See more »

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Did You Know?


Directors Emma Davie and Morag McKinnon were friends of Neil Platt in their student days. See more »

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User Reviews

I AM BREATHING is the end tale of Neil Platt, a totally ordinary man who inherits his father's terminal illness 20 years before its due date.
29 April 2013 | by prettycleverfilmgalSee all my reviews

I AM BREATHING is the end tale of Neil Platt, a totally ordinary man who inherits his father's terminal illness 20 years before its due date, mere months after the birth of his own son Oscar. Neil tells it himself, literally and as screenwriter, because he resolved to document his journey by means of a blog from the first day of diagnosis to the end; the goal – 100 entries before the main event rendered him mute and completely incommunicado.

The filmmakers were present with Neil for a period of time after the disease paralyzed him from the neck down (he had Motor Neurone Disease, also known as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) or Lou Gehrig's disease) to the day after he leaves for hospice. Between Neil's confessionals, we hear excerpts from Neil's blog narrated by an actor, receive tiny interview snippets from mom and wife Louise. Their contributions are moving of course, but the content thereof is about what one would expect. The filmmakers choose a more subtle manner to convey the complexities of their role, show rather than tell. Oscar's toddler antics provide the foil for normalcy against the adult reality playing out.

The pacing is contemplative, as one would expect. But it's not "that" kind of "contemplative," the kind where nothing happens, the kind where the filmmakers are in love with a shot that does nothing for the story. No, the filmmakers unobtrusively underscore Neil's ordinariness-made- extraordinary-by-means-of-circumstance-and-our-witness-to-it, by interspersing his testimonials with clips of Neil in younger days, with artful shots of everyday beautiful things that Neil is seeing with new eyes, with scenes of the child's view of the world, with scenes of friends and family doing not much more than being with him in a loving or companionable way, which speaks volumes (ever avoided a sick or dying friend just because you didn't know what to say?). Their treatment allows the viewer to alternate between asking themselves the rather daunting question "what would I do if I had only months to live" and watching this one man's inspiring answer.

It's hard, very hard, to make a film about an individual and find the universal in it. It's very hard to capture the uber-message in a particular circumstance that raises it to a level where people's empathy and minds are engaged in the bigger question and at the same time honouring the subject of the film. McKinnon and Davie's ability to find this balance has got to be part of the reason it has garnered the documentary accolades from audiences and raves from reviewers. My jaded self says it would be easy to dismiss the raves as simply knee jerk reactions to a film that deals with a guy dying – how does someone trash an effort like that? But in this case, having been in a remarkably parallel universe, I agree with the accolades. The filmmakers have achieved the universal in the personal, a state of documentary film grace to which we as artists aspire, and audiences would do well to witness.

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