Based on the best-selling memoir of the same name, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly tells the extraordinary tale of Jean-Dominique Bauby (Mathieu Amalric), the editor of French Elle magazine, who suffered a stroke at the age of 44 and was left paralysed.
The only way that he could communicate was by blinking one eye. By doing this, and helped by therapists and a carer, he managed to write his book.
While in hospital, Bauby visualised his paralysed body as being trapped in a deep-sea diving bell, while his soul was as free as the butterflies in the air.
Director Julian Schnabel illustrates this by shooting the majority of the film through Bauby's eyes, and flitting between past and present to contrast the editor's old life with his current situation.
That fact that most of the film happens in a hospital room does not mean it's dull. The audience feels closer to Bauby by spending so much time seeing the world through his eyes.
Though limited by the the bodily restrictions of the role, Amalric successfully portrays the physical and psychological struggles his character endured with only one eye and the tiniest facial expressions.
His sensitive approach to the part and Schnabel's delicate handling of the story combine to create a unique cinematic experience that reminds us how precious and fleeting, yet tender and wonderful, life can be.