The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
Review by Ross Anthony

It's a fascinating subject -- waking or not waking from a coma. I'd recently watched a documentary about a woman who had appeared to be comatose, but was actually very aware, although she just couldn't move or communicate. Eventually, she did come out and was able to tell her story. I found it fascinating that she was able to identify the people in her room by smell. Though, also a true story, "Diving Bell" is not about her, but rather a French writer who wakes to realize he has only the use of one eye.

The film opens strong with some very eerily real waking from a coma sequences. We've all seen directors simulate this effect before, putting the audience behind the eyes of the patient. But here, the in and out focus, in and out dark and light effects work. A lot works with this primarily first-person production, but not everything.

The most prominent element (other than the blinking eye\camera) involves caretakers speaking out the French alphabet as the patient blinks to spell his words and thoughts. This is intriguing and even dramatic at times, but it does get tedious, especially for English-speaking audiences who cannot begin to guess the words as they come out with the subtitles. Perhaps it works much better in French. Wisely, filmmakers begin to fast-forward this process - a nice effect and a relief for the viewer, but they bring back the slow spelling for certain scenes. One of which seems situated at the location where a climax should be. Perhaps that scene was chosen for its dramatic impact, but it just doesn't work. In fact, for such a real feeling and emotional movie, that scene feels contrived, soapy and unsupported by earlier scenes.

Overall, the film is engaging, even moving, and has a good message, but it's also a film that fails on the arc level to reward the patience of the viewer.

This film screened at a Laemmle Theatre.

-- Book Contest --

  • The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. Copyright © 2007.
  • Starring Mathieu Amalric, Emmanuelle Seigner, Marie-Josee Croze, Anne Consigny, Patrick Chesnais, Niels Arestrup, Olatz Lopez Garmendia, Jean-Pierre Cassel, Marina Hands, Max von Sydow, Isaach de Bankole.
  • Directed by Julian Schnabel.
  • Screenplay by Ronald Harwood. Based on the book by Jean-Dominique Bauby.
  • Produced by Kathleen Kennedy and Jon Kilik at Pathe Renn/France 3.

Grade..........................B (2/4)

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Copyright © 1998-2023 Ross Anthony, Author - Speaker - Solo World Circumnavigator In addition to reviewing films and interviewing celebs at HollywoodReportCard.com, traveling the world, composing great music, motivational speaking, Mr. Anthony also runs his own publishing company in the Los Angeles area. While traversing the circumference of the planet writing books and shooting documentaries, Mr. Anthony has taught, presented for, worked &/or played with locals in over 30 countries & 100 cities (Nairobi to Nagasaki). He's bungee-jumped from a bridge near Victoria Falls, wrestled with lions in Zimbabwe, crashed a Vespa off a high mountain road in Taiwan, and ridden a dirt bike across the States (Washington State to Washington DC). To get signed books ("Rodney Appleseed" to "Jinshirou") or schedule Ross to speak check out: www.RossAnthony.com or call 1-800-767-7186. Go into the world and inspire the people you meet with your love, kindness, and whatever it is you're really good at. Check out books by Ross Anthony. Rand() functions, Pho chicken soup, rollerblading, and frozen yogurt (w/ blueberries) also rock! (Btw, rand is short for random. It can also stand for "Really Awkward Nutty Dinosaurs" -- which is quite rand, isn't it?) Being alive is the miracle. Special thanks to Ken Kocanda, HAL, Jodie Keszek, Don Haderlein, Mom and Pops, my family, R. Foss, and many others by Ross Anthony. Galati-FE also deserves a shout out. And thanks to all of you for your interest and optimism. Enjoy great films, read stirring novels, grow.

Last Modified: Wednesday, 02-Jan-2008 11:50:57 PST