Reviewer's grade: A+
In 1995, 43-year-old Elle France editor Jean-Dominique Bauby had, in the words of his doctor, a "cerebrovascular accident" (a stroke) which left him with "locked-in syndrome" (paralyzed except for his left eyelid). During the long, lonely months of his hospital confinement, Bauby learned how to dictate his thoughts via that one eyelid, producing the book upon which this movie is based.
Directed by Julian Schnabel and starring a fantastic cast (Mathieu Amalric and Max von Sydow as Bauby and his father are amazing), much of the story is told through a first-person point of view from Bauby's single eye, although there are enough flashbacks and remote shots to give the viewer a break from the claustrophobic confinement. Intense, emotional and dark, "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" isn't for the faint of heart, couples on a first date or time-killing shoppers.
It is, however, one of the most honest, well-made and effective movies of the winter, and will make whatever problems you have seem like a birthday party in comparison. PG-13
" Mike Robertson