What a lugubrious state of affairs Jean-Dominique Bauby (Author and Editor of ELLE magazine) finds himself in when at the age of 43 he is stricken by a stroke, with a rare disease( locked- in syndrome )leaving him speechless and stagnant , only able to blink his left eye. This movie is an artistic biopic of Bauby’s post stroke life, portraying this role is Mathieu Amalric who really embodies the person of Bauby in a very believable fashion.
As stated in the previous passage, this is an artistic biopic. I say this because the filming is unique. We enter the movie at first, from the eyes of Bauby (Matieu Amalric) who is queried by the doctor on basic facts. Answering promptly, bauby is petrified that the doctor cannot hear him. From here begins are perpetual hospital stay that is fractured only by Bauby’s memory that takes us on a journey through the mental journal of Bauby’s brain that he calls to mind, sojourning his bedridden stay and casting us into the life of a seeming playboy journalist for one of the top fashion magazines of our time. While in the hospital Bauby, facing all odds accosting him, writes a book on his life with the help of a person who recited letters from the French alphabet in order of the frequency of their occurrence in spoken language. When Bauby heard the letter, he wanted to use in his words he would blink. This tedious format led to the writing of the book The Diving Bell and the Butterfly; a memoir on Bauby’s life prior to and post stroke.
This movie was in my opinion a very morose film, but disregarding my indifference, it has received many awards as well as four academy awards nominations. The other thing that I found interesting was that this movie maintained a PG-13 status. I am not saying that it had a lot of profanity, or salacious behavior, but that it had a few nude scenes. Not only of Bauby being bathed (which was understandably showing the humiliating state he was in), but of his girlfriends bare breasts. There was no sexual activity in the film but there is definitely visual innuendo in a sensual context (exemplified in the bare breasted girlfriend). On this point, I think as time progresses, ratings will regress…
This movie was sad, but still had a point in it about what one can accomplish despite seemingly insurmountable odds. It wasn’t as sad as My Sister’s Keeper, but it was depressing from my perspective when everything comes to fruition. Not to be stereotyping, but I think that movies get awards when the protagonist is in some type of agony or is dealing with a sickness of some sort. That statement as well as the movie having a lugubriously pejorative ending, makes for your tear jerking, gut trenching success at the awards.