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The Weekend Australian - Review - - Tv -

( M) IN 1995, Jean- Do­minique Bauby, the 43- year- old ed­i­tor of French Elle mag­a­zine, was felled by a near- fa­tal stroke, leav­ing him phys­i­cally im­mo­bilised while his brain re­mained aware of ev­ery­thing hap­pen­ing to and around him, a con­di­tion called lockedin syn­drome. So­phis­ti­cated, ur­bane, tal­ented, he re­sponded by learn­ing — grudg­ingly — to com­mu­ni­cate by blink­ing his one good eye. With the help of a tran­scriber, he wrote a best­seller about his ex­pe­ri­ences. Ju­lian Schn­abel turned the book into this won­der­ful film. Div­ing Bell de­served its many ac­co­lades: Schn­abel won best di­rec­tor at Cannes in 2007 and cin­e­matog­ra­pher Janusz Kamin­ski took the tech­ni­cal award. Strangely, they were over­looked at the Os­cars. Ron­ald Har­wood’s script is first rate, es­chew­ing cheap sen­ti­ment, and Schn­abel’s classy cast per­forms with great hon­esty. Mathieu Amal­ric plays Bauby, with Em­manuelle Seigner as his for­mer wife. Marie- Josee Croze teaches him a new al­pha­bet and Max von Sy­dow is Bauby’s aged fa­ther, also trapped in an un­re­spon­sive body. Im­agery from na­ture, such as glacier ice crash­ing into the sea, sym­bol­ises Bauby’s in­te­rior life: the but­ter­fly that al­lows him to es­cape from his painful, dead- weight body. Not long be­fore the stroke, Bauby had dumped his wife and fam­ily for a younger model, and be­ing paral­ysed doesn’t turn him into a saint, but Amal­ric makes him shine. In French, with sub­ti­tles.

Ros­alie Higson EX­TRAS: Com­men­taries; fea­turettes

Icon ( 112 min­utes) $ 39.95

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