Saturday, February 9, 2008

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

This is a film based on a book of the same name by the former editor of French ELLE, Jean-Dominique Bauby. Julian Schnable just had to get in there and make it a movie. A French movie just to be authentic. The acting is great. Mathieu Amalric is phenomenal since he can only act with one eye, due to the massive stroke that produced "locked in syndrome" where he couldn't move but his brain was intact. That a million reviewers have given this 4 stars has not affected me in the least. Alex snoozed for a few seconds, despite the fact that I was not a totally willing attendant and it was his idea to go. The film was actually praised for the fact that it is done from the viewpoint of Bauby- as is the book, of course. But it spends lengthy, real time, annoyingly, doing what my French teacher never got me to do- learn the proper pronunciation of the letters in the French alphabet. And on and on and on. And JUST when you are getting to like the resilience of Bauby, he rubs the last grains of salt in his arsenal of pain for the mother of his kids by telling his useless, non visiting girlfriend that he misses her while the mother of his kids holds the damn phone and interprets. She visits him every week and brings his kids. That was her chance to kill him. I don't know why she didn't. That was the final straw for me because after that, I didn't LIKE Bauby. So his survival became inconsequential to me. Had Schnabel spent more time on the life of Bauby so that I could identify with him and his frailties, it would have been a better movie. The people in this film who are heroic are his caretakers, his long suffering former girlfriend who has his 3 kids, and the patient woman who wrote down every letter of every word of his book. The movie was interesting, but though Schnabel probably felt he was giving us an idea of what it would be like to have locked in syndrome, and an idea of how tedious it must have been to write a book, I frankly no longer cared by the end.