In his directorial debut, Serkis keeps the focus tightly on the characters -- and reaps the rewards, especially from Foy's superb performance as Diana. She simply won't allow Robin to give up on life. For starters, she helps relieve his depression by doing the then-unthinkable: taking him out of the hospital to live at home. Garfield, Hollander, and Bonneville also impress in their roles. Director Serkis is known, of course, as the world's premier performance-capture artist (Gollum in The Lord of the Rings, the titular ape in King Kong, Caesar in the new Planet of the Apes movies). But just as, all along, his work in that area has really been about acting, here he keeps the cinematic tricks to a minimum in order to let the performances ... breathe. His direction and William Nicholson's script move with admirable economy, conveying the passage of time and important moments smoothly, without paying short shrift to emotional resonances.
And now back to Foy, whose performance is rich, detailed, and alive to every nuance of the movie. She's soulful and reactive without overplaying her hand. When she learns how serious Robin's condition is, you can see layers within her: the proper Englishwoman, staying strong in the moment; the devastated young wife and lover; the mother-to-be realizing how different her future is going to be than what she had thought just moments ago. She's also full of life, finding the love and joy in the family's world, post-diagnosis. Her Diana is strong and extremely capable, brave without being invulnerable. The entire cast is responsible for believably populating the world that Serkis creates, but Foy's Diana is clearly the glue holding it all together. And for those wondering about the film's accuracy: Yes, it's a pretty clean view of a long struggle, but for what it's worth, the Cavendishes' son, Jonathan, is one of the producers.