Netflix UK film review: Last Breath
James R | On 14, Jun 2019
Director: Richard da Costa, Alex Parkinson
Cast: Duncan Allcock, Duncan Allcock, Kjetil Ove Alvestad
Watch Last Breath online in the UK: Netflix UK / Apple TV (iTunes) / Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / Rakuten TV / Google Play / Sky Store
“Breathtaking” is a word that’s easy to use when describing a film, but it’s painfully apt in the cast of this deep see diving documentary – a riveting ride that’s pressurised to within an inch of its life.
The film follows a dive in the North Sea, when work on some drilling equipment went awry – and then some. When the computer systems failed, worker Chris Lemons found himself cut off and stranded on the seabed with only 5 minutes of oxygen, and at least 30 minutes until his rescue. The solution may be mildly underwhelming, but directors Richard da Costa and Alex Parkinson do a superb job at navigating their way to it with maximum suspense.
That’s primarily through the judicious use of a clock to tick down the minutes until his air runs out and the agonisingly long moments after – a crude device but one that doesn’t fail to get your pulse racing. The tick-tock tension is accentuated by the moody, pounding music, while some superbly shot reenactments blend seamlessly with the excellent access the filmmaking team have to archive footage; when you’re still on the edge of your seat despite people speaking in squeaky chipmunk voices because of helium, you know the film’s doing something right.
The whole thing is intercut with vox pops from the crew, which might cause another movie to lose pressure, but ultimately reinforces the stakes of Lemons’ fight for survival – or, more accurately, his colleagues’ efforts to get him back to safety. It’s late on, in the moments when they confront the very real possibility of death, that Last Breath finds its emotional weight, and it’s a blow that leaves you gasping for air. Short, smartly shot despite its low-key production and bolstered by a sensational true story, this is documentary is worth taking the plunge for.
Last Breath is available on Netflix UK, as part of an £9.99 monthly subscription.