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December 02, 2007

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

Thedivingbellandthebut With the help of cinematographer Janusz Kaminski, director Julian Schnabel goes so far toward cinematically capturing the claustrophobic condition of his paralyzed and mute protagonist Jean-Dominique Bauby (Mathieu Amalric) that the artifice of his point-of-view technique consumes where it should liberate. The film is based on the memoir of Bauby who, at the age of 43, suffered a stroke that rendered his brain stem inactive and derailed his life as the dashing editor-in-chief of French Vogue. Only able to move his left eye, Bauby painstakingly learns, with the aid of his speech therapist Marie-Josee Croze (Henriette Roi), to communicate and later dictate his memoir to a volunteer (Anne Consigny) at a naval hospital in northern France. The film gets some much-needed zest from Max Von Sydow as Bauby’s caring father unable to hear his son’s voice on the telephone. Audiences familiar with "The Sea Inside" will recognize that film’s more active story about a paralyzed man reaching out to make his last days count albeit with far different motivations.

Rated PG-13, 114 mins. (B-) (Three Stars)

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