The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (Buena Vista)
Julian Schnabel’s piercing drama is about Jean-Dominique Bauby, a Parisian fashion editor who, after suffering a massive stroke at age 43, lost control over his body except for his left eye, with which he blinked answers to visitors and hospital staff. With the help of these patient hospital workers, Bauby “wrote” a book about his experience. At first, it seems as if the entire movie will be a visual stunt, with actors talking directly to the camera (as a stand-in for Bauby). But Schnabel wonderfully varies the pacing and rhythm throughout, juxtaposing unsparing sequences of Bauby’s slow non-recovery with episodes from his fast-paced pre-stroke life. Mathieu Amalric gives a miraculous performance as Bauby, and the women in his life -- the mother of his children, his current squeeze, his therapists -- are beautifully embodied by Emmanuelle Seigner, Marie-Josee Croze, Anne Consigny, and Olatz Lopez Garmendia (the director’s wife).
EXTRAS: Schnabel commentary and interview; two making-of featurettes.