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The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

~ NOMINATED FOR 4 OSCARS: Best Director, Cinematography, Adapted Screenplay and Editing

An astonishing, deeply moving film, The Diving Bell And The Butterfly is based on the memoir by 43-year-old Elle editor Jean-Dominique Bauby, played by Mathieu Amalric. The story begins in 1995 with Bauby suffering a debilitating stroke that leaves him with ‘locked-in’ syndrome, in which his entire body is paralysed but his mind is unaffected. The doctors quickly discover that Bauby can communicate by blinking, so he works closely with two therapists (Olatz Lopez Garmendia as his physio and Marie-Joseé Croze as his speech therapist) and they gradually develop a time-consuming but effective method of communication. Once the system is developed, Bauby requests a patient transcriber (Anne Consigny) and begins to dictate his memoir, one letter at a time. Meanwhile, he reconnects with his estranged ex-girlfriend (Emmanuelle Seigner) and their three children and reflects on the life he has led. The entire film is told from Bauby’s perspective, frequently using jaw-dropping point-of-view camerawork, courtesy of cinematographer Janusz Kaminski. Thus, the opening section of the film includes Bauby’s once-for-yes, twice-for-no blinks and, in one horrifying sequence, a point-of-view shot of the doctors stitching up his right eye. The script by Ronald Harwood (Oscar winner for The Pianist) is excellent, brilliantly capturing Bauby’s inner life as we hear his thoughts and experience his memories. There’s also a surprising amount of humour in the film, which keeps things from descending into mawkish sentimentality. Mathieu Amalric is nothing short of astonishing in the lead role, delivering an extraordinarily physical performance that is genuinely moving. There’s also terrific support from Seigner, Consigny and Croze, while Max von Sydow contributes a beautifully written two-scene cameo (as Bauby’s father) that is guaranteed to reduce you to tears. In short, this is a beautifully directed, superbly written and brilliantly acted drama that is both deeply moving and genuinely inspiring. Unmissable and one of the best films of the year. – Matthew Turner, View London
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Directed by: 
Julian Schnabel
Running Time: 
French with English subtitles
Mathieu Amalric, Marie-Josée Croze, Emmanuelle Seigner, Anne Consigny, Olatz López Garmendia, Max von Sydow
Screenplay by: 
Ronald Harwood, based on the memoir Le Scaphandre et le papillor by Jean-Dominique Bauby

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