The more and more I watch Schnabel, the more his films look like those of Terry Gilliam; certainly not a bad thing. Without having read the book I almost feel confident in assuming that the film is far more poignant. Even if it’s a great memoir, words cannot possibly capture Bauby’s predicament in the same way. The techniques that Schnabel applies here just seem so appropriate, and this was undoubtedly a bold project to take on. Max Von Sydow’s role was a bit odd, but after working on so many bleak Bergman projects, he’s practically a weathered veteran at this level of dramatic acting.
It really would be insensitive, not to mention a little ignorant to call the film ponderous. I think that Schnabel did the best job that he could of explaining Bauby’s condition well enough, while offering enough time to indulge in the imagination that clearly was his saving grace. As obvious as it may sound, the film does share similarities with Gondry’s the Science of Sleep. Of course Gondry’s film is all about someone who effortlessly blurs the line between reality and dreams, and Bauby’s story is about one who must exercise every ounce of willpower that he has in order to transcend what is unquestionably a cruel reality.