Metascore
92

Universal acclaim - based on 36 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 34 out of 36
  2. Negative: 0 out of 36
  1. 100
    At the end we are left with the reflection that human consciousness is the great miracle of evolution, and all the rest (sight, sound, taste, hearing, smell, touch) are simply a toolbox that consciousness has supplied for itself.
  2. 100
    You won't have a more viscerally emotional experience at the movies this year.
  3. 88
    The movie will wipe you out. Schnabel's previous two films (Basquiat, Before Night Falls) also focused on artists. But this is his best film yet, a high-wire act of visual daring and unquenchable spirit.
  4. The most beautiful movie ever made about a man who could only move one eyelid -- almost dangerously beautiful.
  5. Simultaneously uplifting and melancholy, suffused with an unexpected sense of possibility as much as the inevitable sense of loss.
  6. The movie has done what those who've cherished the book might have thought impossible -- intensified its singular beauty by roving as free and fearlessly as Bauby's mind did.
  7. Reviewed by: Ken Fox
    100
    Amalric is extraordinary, creating a character literally without moving a muscle.
  8. 88
    He even calls the majestic view from one of the hospital landings his Cinecittà, after the legendary Italian film studio. The movie is a Cinecittà of the mind.
  9. In a film that overwhelmingly avoids happy-faced pronouncements, this one sticks out.
  10. Moviegoers are turned off by depressing topics, yet "Diving Bell" supplies something film fans claim they want: pure escapism, the chance to experience extreme sensations virtually none of us will ever have.
  11. 90
    In his memoir Mr. Bauby performed a heroic feat of alchemy, turning horror into wisdom, and Mr. Schnabel, following his example and paying tribute to his accomplishment, has turned pity into joy.
  12. It is wonderful: a rhapsodic adaptation of a memoir, a visual marvel that wraps its subject in screen romanticism without romanticizing his affliction. It left me feeling euphoric.
  13. 91
    Mathieu Amalric, best known as an arms dealer in "Munich." In a role that strips him entirely of vanity and denies him virtually every expressive tool, Amalric makes a genuinely touching impression.
  14. The film is more than laborious eye-blinking - it's also dazzling visually, its potent imagery conjured by cinematographer Janusz Kaminski. But finally, Diving Bell is about something imperceptible: consciousness.
  15. The adjective “inspirational” doesn't do justice to the quality of Schnabel's film.
  16. The movie never falls into gushy moments of inspiration and Schnabel never tries to manipulate any particular response from the audience. We're left to make of it what we will.
  17. 100
    Thanks to Bauby's courageous and honest writing, and Schnabel's poetic interpretation, what could have been a portrait of impotence and suffering becomes a lively exploration of consciousness and a soaring ode to liberation.
  18. 100
    The Diving Bell and the Butterfly provides an ecstatic lift for movielovers, despite the tragic subject.
  19. 100
    The picture is so imaginatively made, so attuned to sensual pleasure, so keyed in to the indescribable something that makes life life, that it speaks of something far more elemental than mere filmmaking skill: This is what movies, at their best, can be.
  20. The film is a masterpiece in which “locked-in” syndrome becomes the human condition.
  21. Reviewed by: David Ansen
    100
    Schnabel, screenwriter Ronald Harwood and Spielberg's great cinematographer Janusz Kaminski have found a way to take us inside Bauby's mind--his memories, his fantasies, his loves and lusts--transforming a story of physical entrapment and spiritual renewal into exhilarating images.
  22. 100
    Schnabel’s movie, based on the calm and exquisite little book that Bauby wrote in the hospital, is a gloriously unlocked experience, with some of the freest and most creative uses of the camera and some of the most daring, cruel, and heartbreaking emotional explorations that have appeared in recent movies.
  23. 91
    Schnabel's sleepy, drifty, at times morbidly funny film tackles something more ambitious, by getting into the head of someone who's trying to get out of there himself.
  24. 100
    he Diving Bell and the Butterfly fuses experimental techniques with a highly accessible and sometimes humorous narrative; it’s deeply personal yet universal in its humanism.
  25. Reviewed by: Glenn Kenny
    100
    Every performer in the international cast -- Seigner, de Bankole, von Sydow (magnificent as Bauby's father), and the late Jean-Pierre Cassel to name but a few -- completely disappears into each of their roles, which I think is as much a testament to Schnabel's talents as to theirs.
  26. Director Julian Schnabel and screenwriter Ronald Harwood have performed a small miracle in adapting for the screen Jean-Dominique Bauby's autobiography The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.
  27. Reviewed by: Matthew Sorrento
    100
    Schnabel's film is so steeped in the visual that it is surely the purest of cinema.
  28. Reviewed by: Josh Rosenblatt
    89
    Could easily have tipped over into melodrama, but Schnabel is too much an artist to let that happen; he realizes that in order to make his hero truly substantial, and not just sympathetic, he has to present him as an ordinary man making the best of extraordinarily lousy circumstances. By doing so he’s created a character we not only marvel at but identify with.
  29. Reviewed by: Dana Stevens
    90
    With the help of brilliant French actor Mathieu Amalric, Spielberg's longtime cinematographer Janusz Kaminski, and screenwriter Ronald Harwood (The Pianist), Schnabel has made a marvelous film that uses images with as much grace and flair as Bauby used words.
User Score
8.3

Universal acclaim- based on 150 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 43 out of 49
  2. Negative: 3 out of 49
  1. Jun 18, 2012
    8
    The French drama film provides an exceptionally powerful message that nothing is as precious as our consciousness through a miraculous and inspirational story of a guy who lost almost all of his physical senses except for only one, his consciousness. Despite how naturally the story progressed, the movie evokes such powerful inner subject of life that it is difficult not to be aware and realize the fact of how blessed we are to be born and be well at present time. An immensely inspirational film. Full Review »
  2. Mar 31, 2014
    8
    The cinematography is so beautiful, you just wish that the plot went deeper into the questions about life it raises. The storytelling's simplicity does not mirror the visuals' ambiguity. Full Review »
  3. BKM
    May 30, 2013
    8
    Right from the very first scene when Jean-Do awakes from a coma to learn that he is paralyzed and unable to speak, we are pulled right into the fear, grief and loneliness that he is enduring. But as he refuses to be a victim locked in his own body, we also share in his joy, love and hope and get a first hand account of his memories and imagination. A truly resonant film that takes you on a journey into one man's unbreakable spirit. Full Review »