Tuesday, September 02, 2008

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

I saw a few movies over the long weekend but one really has stuck with me. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly is about French Elle editor Jean-Dominique Bauby who suffered a massive stroke at age 42, leaving him completely paralyzed save for his left eye. His condition was called "locked in:" though almost completely paralyzed, his brain function was completely intact. With the help of a dedicated speech therapist, he was able to communicate by blinking, ultimately writing a book of the same name about his experience, which was published ten days before his death of pneumonia.

Mathieu Amalric is quite incredible as Jean-Do, and Max von Sydow gave a powerful performance as his frail father, stunned by his son's condition. It was gripping from the opening moments as Jean-Do emerges from his 20 day coma and begins to grasp the horror of his situation, to his eventual decision to write the book, interspersed with scenes of his pre-stroke life, his slow decline and death. I actually watched all the DVD extras--this is how compelling this movie was.

Director Julian Schnabel also directed Basquiat and Before Night Falls and was best known to me before as the shlumpy guy that's always wearing his pajamas. Awesome. I also discovered that I love the name Olatz--Schabel's gorgeous wife, who also has a small role in the movie, who it turns out is a designer of domestic items including, you guessed it, pajamas. This may be the first time I've actually seen a $1000 sheet. They are quite pretty though but isn't this a lovely tablecloth? As soon as a $900 tablecloth makes sense in my life, I'm all over Olatz but until then great movies always have a place.

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