Last Breath




A work that breathes cinematic life into the true story of a diver faced by imminent death.

Last Breath


Unusually upfront as to its nature, this documentary feature states at the outset that its portrayal of real events involves not only authentic footage but reconstructions. That the reality needed to be recreated for the screen is entirely understandable given the nature of the incident that lies at the heart of Last Breath. It was in September 2012 that a commercial diver, Chris Lemons, one of a team of two, was working on the seabed in the North Sea. Many might well regard that as a highly hazardous job by its very nature, but for Lemons the danger became something else again when his air supply line was cut.


In telling the story of how this came about and then going on to cover in detail the desperate against-the-odds attempt to bring Lemons back to the surface alive, the film is dealing with dramatic material but not of a kind that readily lends itself to being the subject of a feature film. It does, of course, incorporate fresh interview footage, most notably with the other diver, Dave Yuasa, with the bellman Duncan Allcock who was the third member of the group directly involved and with Morag Martin, the fiancée of Chris Lemons who had been looking forward to their wedding when all this happened. Realising that the operating process is complicated but needs to be understood if the full story is to be grasped, Last Breath incorporates scenes explaining this early on and then features shots that illustrate visually the steps taken after disaster had struck.


Putting this together to make a comprehensible and gripping narrative cannot have been easy and for the most part Alex Parkinson, credited with writing the piece as well as co-directing, and his partner Richard da Costa have done a good job. However, if the use of the 'Scope format suits the landscape and helps to make this an immersing experience, it also means that some opening scenes featuring home videos suffer from camera movement that is unduly distracting when seen on the big screen. That passes, but I do feel that the film's last section, following on from the climactic moments after Lemons has been located without evidence as to whether he is dead or alive, is over-extended. This is linked to my feeling that the film plays up the audience's emotions rather too readily. However, most viewers will be hooked by Last Breath, which is attempting material that makes it a distinctive entry among the many documentaries that reach us these days.




Featuring  Chris Lemons, Dave Yuasa, Duncan Allcock, Craig Frederick, Michal Chichorski, Stuart Anderson.


Dir Richard da Costa and Alex Parkinson, Pro Richard da Costa, Alex Parkinson, Angus Lamont and others, Screenplay Alex Parkinson, Ph Alex Parkinson, Ed Sam Rogers.


Floating Harbour/Met Film Production/Umedia-Dogwoof.
90 mins. UK. 2018. Rel: 5 April 2019. Cert. 12A.