The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

Wednesday 7th May 20087:00 PM

NEW YORK PREMIERE AT NEW YORK FILM FESTIVAL 2007 (Limited) Celebrated painter and filmmaker Julian Schnabel’s third feature finds him reaching new artistic heights with this audacious and personal biopic, based on the best-selling memoir of the same name. The film tells the remarkable tale of Jean-Dominique Bauby (Mathieu Amalric), the world-renowned editor of French ELLE magazine, who suffered a stroke and was paralyzed by the inexplicable "locked in" syndrome at the age of 43.

Bauby’s only way of communicating with the outside world was by blinking with one eye, and after several dedicated helpers--a string of impossibly beautiful women (Emmanuelle Seigner, Marie-Josee Croze, Olatz Lopez Garamendia, Anne Consigny)--helped him to speak through this seemingly irrelevant gesture, he began to produce the words that would form his memoir.

Along the way, as he swam in and out of consciousness, memories from his past swelled into the present, resulting in a cinematic experience that is at once heartbreaking and hopeful. Schnabel somehow manages to convey Bauby’s internal life with remarkable clarity, employing first-person perspective, striking cinematography (by the always great Janusz Kaminski), and Amalric’s pained, life-affirming monologues.

The result is a wholly original experience, a painful and tender portrait of a life that is made all the more exhilarating because of its close proximity to death.

Rotten Tomatoes Score:

93%

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