Paralyzed from head to toe after a devastating stroke, fast-living Elle magazine editor Jean-Dominique Bauby (Amalric) must readjust to a life in which, deprived of movement and speech, his only way of communicating is by blinking his left eyelid. To combat the discouragement and despair his condition engenders, he decides to write a memoir about living with locked-in syndrome, one letter at a time.
Anyone who read the stunning, painstakingly rendered memoir Bauby wrote knows what an audacious achievement Schnabel's film is, both technically and artistically. For much of the film, we see the world through Bauby's single eye, hearing his voice and (often ribald) thoughts about his nurses, his estranged wife (Seigner), his children, his aging father (a heartbreaking Von Sydow), and what's happening around him. It's a conceit that works beautifully, thanks largely to an inspired performance by Amalric in a most demanding role. "Diving Bell" is both a visual and spiritual treat, celebrating the miraculous, jaw-dropping resilience of one human being.