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REVIEW: THE DIVING BELL AND THE BUTTERFLY

PUBLISHED: 11:40 06 February 2008 | UPDATED: 10:15 22 July 2010

JUSTIN MATLOCK reviews THE DIVING BELL AND THE BUTTERFLY (15).

IN his early 40s, former editor of French Elle Jean-Dominique Bauby suffered a stroke and became totally paralysed - and his struggles with the so-called "locked-in syndrome" are documented in the hauntingly powerful drama THE DIVING BELL AND THE BUTTERFLY (12A).

In the wrong hands, this could have been nothing but near-unwatchable gloom but director Julian Schnabel turns the story into an inspiring ode to imagination and will to survive.

It's also beautiful. Bauby's body was useless except for his left eye - he used it not to see and communicate with the outside world - and Schnabel tells large chunks of the movie from Bauby's point of view.

We sit in his head and experience the world as he sees it, listening to his thoughts and joining in with his flights of fancy.

The technique is unique, inventive and undeniably arty - Schnabel blurs images and colours to suggest Bauby falling in and out of consciousness - but Mathieu Amalric's wonderful performance as Bauby, capturing the man's despair and wit, gives the film

a soulful and tender core. - JUSTIN MATLOCK


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