Jean Bauby, internationally renowned editor of Elle, suffered a stroke at the age of 43. The result was complete paralysis, rendering him unable to move or speak. Schnabel’s transports us into his claustrophobic world with highly original direction shot from the protagonist’s perspective.
Diving Bell is a tale of redemption, intimately exploring Bauby’s journey from philanderer to a man of strength and humanity. He shares the misdemeanors of his past with brutal honesty, blinking it out letter by letter. Stripped of the lifestyle which once defined him, an awakened sense of self-awareness enables him to connect with women on a level beyond the purely carnal; he develops remorse for the mother of his children and aggrieved lover and forges profound relationships with his female carers.
Despite the aridity of his position, Bauby’s dry wit lightens the film and the relief he finds in his own imagination provide colourful contrast; Diving Bell is frequently uplifting and inspiring. A beautiful and talented cast combine with innovative cinematography and score to produce an achingly poignant work of art.