Today I saw the Diving Bell and the Butterfly. Lots of people are saying very positive things about this movie, very 4-Star, Two Thumbs Up things. Me, I'd say it's more of a 3 and 1/2-Star, Two Thumbs Up movie. I hope you're familiar with the premise, but let me refresh you on the premise: A True Story--Editor for French Elle magazine has a terrible stroke, wakes up from coma completely paralyzed except for his left eye. Decides to write book dictated by blinking his left eye.
I thought I really really enjoyed this movie for most of it but by the end I was kind of like "Geeeze...stop reciting the alphabet and move along, already!" (that's how he'd communicated, the person he was speaking with would recite the alphabet and he'd blink when they got to the letter he wanted next in the word he was forming. My mom says the book he wrote wasn't terribly long, still, what a herculean accomplishment of patience) The movie was good, but something keeps me from calling it absolutely great.
BUT these are things I can totally get behind from this movie:
-The cinematography, you really feel like you're looking out through this guy's eye for so much of it. The motions of the camera are so true to the motions of an eye and convey so much thought and feeling.
-The soundtrack. Very spot on all the time. Remember in In America when they surface from the tunnel and the radio static bursts into "Do You Believe in Magic?" Lots of moments of perfection like that in this movie...from an obscurish Dirt Bombs song that I thought only I cared about to a segment when suddenly I felt a U2 song was valuable to the perfect placement of a Tom Waits melody (perhaps something about this post can bring you to guess which one?)
-The movie as a tribute to or perhaps a meditation on Memory and Imagination and one thing I certainly love to meditate on are Memory and Imagination. Many of his imaginings were magnificent. Is the Memory the Diving Bell, the means of exploring depths and the Imagination the Butterfly, the means of escaping into the impossible? I propose that they are.
-Almost forgot. There's a scene where the guy's Dad, a 92 year old that can't leave his apartment, calls the guy and it's very emotional. And there's a scene where the guy's Mistress calls him for the first time since his accident while his Wife is visiting him and the Wife has to dictate to the Mistress for him. It reminded me a lot of a story I read about Rocky Aoki. (see this post and check out Matt's comment).
What I really appreciate about this movie was that it wasn't miserable and depressing, but I can't say it was a stirringly inspiring as I know it secretly wished it was, despite acting so cool. But I don't mean to be negative. I said this was a ***1/2* movie and I mean it.