Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

From the moment I saw the trailer last year, I knew it was something that I had to see. After months of working post production on Shiro's Head, I was finally able to catch "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" from Netflix over the weekend. First off, the editing was was a building block to the whole story courtesy of the skillfull Juliette Welfling. The cinematography from award winning top-tier DP Janusz Kaminski was as good as any movie can get. The cast led by Mathieu Amalric was superb and the screenplay writing (though I watched the English subtitled version adapted from the book by Jean-Dominique Bauby) from Ronald Harwood was moving. Mostly, the artistic direction and guts from American director Julian Schnabel was way more than I initially expected and was prepared to give him credit for.

This real life account of the editor of French "Elle" fashion magazine Jean-Dominique Bauby was played out like a moving painting. In 1995, Bauby was a high-rolling French playboy who had a life-threatening stroke that left him paralyzed from the head down. His condition was a rare one known as "locked-in syndrome". He was only able to blink his left eye. It was with the blinking of his left eye that he was able to communicate with others to write his memoirs which later became a successful bestseller.

Because there is way too much in this movie that will allow me to ramble on for days, I'll break it down to just a few of my high points. It's a uniquely great movie that is not only touching, but inspiring and artistically driven. I won't spoil it too much for you: Director Schnabel has won me over (which isn't easy to do) with respect as a director with a REAL vision. Rocker, former fashion model and "Mrs. Polanski" Emmanuelle Seigner of "Ultra Orange and Emmanuelle" gives a BAD-ASS , empowering performance as Bauby's ex and the mother of his children (she also has a song that sets the tone for the soundtrack entitled "Don't Kiss Me Goodbye"). Max von Sydow gives an emotional performance as Jean's father, I feel like I now know Marie Josee Croze just from her sensitive performance and the cool soundtrack is perfectly accompanied with rich visuals I won't soon forget.

Although this movie won't be for everyone, those who do "get it" will appreciate it. Definitely one for the collection.