(out of 5)
Original title: Le Scaphandre et le Papillon
Immensely moving film based on the book of the same name by Jean-Dominique Bauby, a high profile magazine editor who suffered a stroke in the prime of his life that left him with what the doctors called “locked-in syndrome”: Dauby’s intellectual capacities weren’t affected in the slightest by his condition, but his brain was disconnected from any motor control of his body except for the blinking of one eye. With this limited means of expression, and thanks to the endless patience of a series of kind and devoted nurses, Dauby was eventually able to not only communicate with those around him but to pen an entire autobiography that covered his life experiences. This beautiful, heart-rending film by Julian Schnabel (Before Night Falls) presents another portrait of an afflicted artist that puts as much poetry into the story as it seems that Dauby put into his writing, infusing healthy doses of humour and pathos into a film that tells us not only of our capacity for survival, but of the human need for dreams. If the scene on the phone between Dauby (played so effectively by Mathieu Amalric) and his aging father (Max von Sydow) doesn’t reduce you to tears, you’re a fucking heartless bastard. Features excellent support by Emmanuelle Seigner, the lovely Marie-Josée Croze, and a cameo by Jean-Pierre Cassel in his final film.
Directed by Julian Schnabel
Cinematography by Janusz Kaminski
Music by Paul Cantelon
Costume Design by Olivier Beriot
Film Editing by Juliette Welfling