Forty-three year old Elle magazine editor Jean-Dominique Bauby - Jean-Do to his friends - awakens not knowing where he is. He is in a Berck-sur-Mer hospital, where he has been for the past several weeks in a coma after suffering a massive stroke. Although his cognitive facilities are in tact, he quickly learns that he has what is called locked-in syndrome which has resulted in him being almost completely paralyzed, including not being able to speak. One of his few functioning muscles is his left eye. His physical situation and hospitalization uncomfortably bring together the many people in his life, including: Céline Desmoulins, his ex-lover and mother of his children; Inès, his current lover; and his aged father who he calls Papinou. Among his compassionate recuperative team are his physical therapist Marie, and his speech therapist Henriette. Henriette eventually teaches him to communicate using a system where he spells out words: she reads out the letters of the alphabet in ... Written by
To familiarize himself with Bauby's sheltered existence, director Julian Schnabel made the movie in the same hospital where Bauby was treated, meeting many of the orderlies who had treated him. He also shot scenes on the same balcony where Bauby relaxed, and on the same nearby beach his family took him to. See more »
After Bauby's right eye is sewn shut and hidden behind the opaque lens of his glasses, the angled mirror over his bed reveals it to be open and tracking along with the left eye. See more »
Having a mistress is no excuse for leaving the mother of your children; the world has lost its values.
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The inadequacies of the descriptions of this movie emphasize the gulf between the written (or spoken) word and the work of art itself. I could write all the spoilers and it wouldn't make a difference, because the riveting quality here doesn't depend on plot surprises. It is the improbable story, a story that will touch you and then executed by actors who seem like their lives depend on being true to the story.
This is an anti-Hollywood, anti-formula movie. Those have their place, but this is a great antidote to the silly decisions made by inappropriately powerful studio execs.
See it. You'll be thankful you did.
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