Tuesday, January 08, 2008

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

Stone Groove should not, I repeat, should NOT see this movie. I barely got through the first 1/3 of this movie myself. The reason he should not see this movie is because the filmmaking is so effective in making the viewer feel trapped like the protagonist Jean-Dominic Bauby is in his own body that Mr. Groove would most likely have a freakout in the theater if he saw it.

The movie is based on Bauby's memoir. He was a debonair playboy editor of Elle Paris who suffered a major stroke that left him unable to speak or to move anything other this his eyes. The first 1/3 of the film is told from Bauby's point of view which drove me absolutely bonkers but in a good way I guess. I felt tense but was so taken by the movie that I was able to forge ahead. I've seen other films use similar techniques but never as artfully filmed or for as long as this film uses it. It really is unrelenting. I loved being able to hear Bauby's thoughts making fun of some of his doctors, lusting for others, questioning his life, or getting lost in his imagination.

After the first 1/3 when Bauby decides to stop pitying himself, you finally get to see what he has been reduced to and it isn't pretty. He is just a gnarled lump of a person. He can't control anything except for one eye - the other was stitched shut (because of an infection) in one of the more horrifying scenes I've ever seen.

The storytelling structure also serves the story well - flashbacks, rock songs, and dreamlike sequences are used sparingly and well. This is Schnabel's first film since 2000's Before Night Falls. I hope I don't have to wait until 2014 for his next effort.

This film makes me intrigued to read the autobiography (the dude wrote it by having his blinks translated into letters into words into a book!) on which this is based as well as the documentary on Bauby. I hope this film also leads to wider acclaim for one of my favorite actors of the last ten years, Mathieu Almaric, who I've really liked since first seeing him in My Sex Life (Or How I Got Into An Argument) which sadly is not available on Netflix.

Directed by Julian Schnabel

1 comment:

youthlarge said...

i keep coming back to those opening moments. they made me incredibly uncomfortable and nauseous but looking back are so important to the experience.