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Jean-Dominique Bauby or Jean-Do suffers a stroke, wakes up in hospital with a very limited set of physcial capabilities, but a mind as alert and active as ever. He is arrogant, self-centric, pissed off with the world around himself and in general not a nice guy. With the help of his therapists, he learns some basic survival and communication skills again, and with his ability to express himself, he experiences a satisfaction that may be more substantial what he experienced in his previous life. He starts writing a book by dictating his thoughts to the hospital staff, his family and friends.
Despite its richness, there is very little to say about the film, apart from: it is of dreamlike beauty, with stunning sapia filters and floating camerawork in some of the flashback sequences, with unpretentious medical sobriety in they eye of a shattered body, with lovably tough characters to help the ill former fashion superstar to overcome his self-pity and death wishes. Especially the latter is a wonderful scene, when he is asking the young girl who has been working her butt off to help him get going again to help him kill himself. The incredible insult this constitutes, the ignorance to her self-defiance and sacrfices hits back at him the second he expresses the wish, and Jean-Do cannot but understand for maybe the first time ever that other people have feelings and that he keeps hurting them.
Excellent acting on all parts, especially Mathieu Amalric as Jean-Do, without whose great performance you just cannot do such a film, but equally good, maybe harder self-contained parts by the girls and women around him, the wife, girlfriend and therapists. And the bloke who brings a fur hat and puts it on Jean-Do’s head each time before reading to him is just the right level of comic relief. Masterful music, too. Ah – masterful everything! I heard Julian Schnabel is a complicated self-indulgent… artist. So what, he made this film and he put Johnny Depp into a drag queen dress. He is forgiven!

One Comment

  1. I really love this film! It is really well acted but I am most impressed with Schnabel's work…the first 20 mins its like being in the sick person in the bed. Its fantastic!

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