Amazon Holiday

Sunday, November 11, 2007

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

Q: What’s the movie about?

A: Based on Jean-Dominique Bauby’s memoir about the stroke which caused him to become completely paralyzed from his head to his toes, this is the true story of how he learned to communicate by blinking his left eye… the only remaining functional part of his body besides his mind.

Q: Who’s in the movie?

A: A bunch of French people: Mathieu Amalric, Emmanuelle Seigner, Marie-Josee Croze, Anne Consigny, Olatz Lopez Garmendia, Max von Sydow, Isaach De Bankole, Neils Arestrup

Q: Is this movie worth the price of admission?

A: Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketGo! This a beautiful film about a man who overcomes his anger at having “Locked-in Syndrome,” which is a condition describing a person who has a completely functioning mind, memory and imagination, but no physical ability to express any of those thoughts through speech or movement. Everyone can relate to being misunderstood and feeling like their thoughts aren’t being heard, for Jean-Dominique Bauby this literally became his life condition. After being the successful editor of Elle France, this condition couldn’t be more opposite to his previously powerful image of himself as a man. But he proves that his spirit of success can’t be stopped as he blinks his way to a best selling memoir, which explains what Locked-In Syndrome feels like, for all those of us who will be lucky enough never to have to experience it.

Q: Will this movie make me laugh?

A: This is not a comedy, but the uncensored thoughts of a man who can’t be heard are funny because they’re true.

Q: Will this movie make me cry?

A: Very good chance. They got me in the scene depicting the first time Mr. Bauby’s kids see their once vibrant father acting like an impotent vegetable.

Q: Will this movie be up for any awards?

A: If Julian Schnabel doesn’t win the best director Oscar for this, the whole Academy should be replaced.

Q: How is the Acting?

A: This is a stand-out performance for Mathieu Amalric who plays Jean-Dominique Bauby. He seems like two entirely different people as goes from confident, good-looking Editor-in-chief, to paralyzed shell of an embittered man who can’t even swat a fly off of his own nose.

Q: How is the Directing?

A: With the help of gorgeous cinematography by Janusz Kaminski, Julian Schnabel was able to use visuals to make you feel like you were actually experiencing the blurriness and confusion of waking up from a coma and discovering that no one can hear you scream. His point-of-view camera allows you to look at and see the main characters feeling. And while the main character is immobile, the audience travels the world. My only complaints in regards to the directing is that 1) many of the actresses looked too much alike, and I sometimes had difficulty telling them apart, and 2) he would sometimes cut to crumbling ice-caps, which seemed a little out of the blue. Perhaps it was his way of showing us that this once strong man was falling apart, or I don’t know—I’m sure I could read some significance into this but I shouldn’t have to guess.

Q: How is the story/script?

A: I’m not a fan of bio-pics, because they tend to wander and feel pointless, but this one was worth making. Focusing only on the part of this man’s life that was truly extraordinary, this is a movie you have never seen or experienced before. Without much of a story, and no semblance of a plot, this movie keeps your attention and captures your imagination, except during a few minutes toward the end of the 3rd act when you feel like you get it already, and you’re ready to wrap it up.

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Seek said...

I liked the story and found it very touching, but if I didn't have to hear the French alphabet in order of "most-frequently-used" 350 times, I would have enjoyed it so much more. Significantly reducing the use of that device would have cut down the time a bit too. "We got it already...", kept running in my head after a while. I really loved the movie too, overall, and was so glad the central character, Bauby, was allowed such a great sense of humor to keep his plight from being too overwhelming.

Monique said...

I know what you mean about the alphabet going on and on. It does get annoying. But that annoyance helps you really feel what a task it must have been for him to write a whole book that way. So as much as I was annoyed, I also felt like it helped me feel his pain.

Seek said...

good point...You definitely feel this guy's pain--the way it was filmed was amazing! You should read a book called Johnny Got His Gun--if you want another powerful "locked in syndrome", 1st person perspective. I read it twenty years ago, but it still sticks with me.