Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

This is one of those "hidden gems" that is not really "hidden" at all, since it was nominated for an Oscar--wow, I just looked it up and it was nominated for four Oscars! Surprisingly it wasn't nominated for Best Foreign Language Film. Odd. Anyway, I put The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (TBBB) in my queue when it was released to US theaters in late 2007 (it was in a bunch of film festivals too), but I currently have over 200 titles in my Blockbuster queue, so it took a while to float to the top.

Although I had no idea at the time, the film is based on the true story of Jean-Do Bauby (who you might've recognized as Bond's pseudo-enviro-nemesis), a magazine magnate who suffered a stroke, and was subsequently paralyzed, lost his ability to speak, and wanted to write a book about the whole ordeal. On top of all of that drama--as if it weren't enough--there's also a very underexplored narrative about Jean-Do's love life (and I'm not being sarcastic... but I guess I could always read the book for more info). Watch the trailer if you want:

Some TBBB moments were a little tough to watch (the cinematography for the first five minutes started to make me a little dizzy, and then they sewing up of the eye was simply brutal), but I definitely grew more interested in the film as time wore on (which is what should happen with good movies). I was almost moved to tears by Max von Syndow, the actor who plays Jean-Do's father (I actually recognized him from a certain film that everybody seems to hate; you can spot him at the beginning of this clip from said hated film). Why, if the old guy from Into the Wild can get nominated for such a small role, can't Syndow? Clearly, the Oscars were a little hit-and-miss with this film.

Final Grade: A-
Blurb: Definitely the best French film I've seen in years (and I've watched two sub-par ones, one that could've been better, and one that I thought was good, but too long and a bit overhyped.).

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