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The Diving Bell and the Butterfly Review Critics


Dave White Profile

… beautiful, sometimes ecstatic, sometimes blurry, sometimes mournful … Read full review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 5.0

    out of 100

    Universal acclaim
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 100

    out of 100

    Chicago Sun-Times Roger Ebert

    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.

    Read Full Review

  • 100

    out of 100

    Wall Street Journal Joe Morgenstern

    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.

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  • 100

    out of 100

    The Hollywood Reporter Ray Bennett

    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.

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  • 75

    out of 100

    USA Today Claudia Puig

    Whereas the book was lyrical and moving, the movie is surrealistic and inventive.

    Read Full Review

  • 91

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly Lisa Schwarzbaum

    The most beautiful movie ever made about a man who could only move one eyelid -- almost dangerously beautiful.

    Read Full Review

  • See all The Diving Bell and the Butterfly reviews at

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

Iffy for 15+

Subtitled drama takes paralyzed man's perspective.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this subtitled French drama offers a fairly sophisticated, though repetitive, look at a single paralyzed character's point of view. The camera takes his very limited perspective (through one eye) and shows his lusty fantasies and flashbacks (which include some passionate tongue kissing). There are repeated shots of cleavage and women's bottoms, as well as both bare breasts and buttocks (and, in one non-sexual scene, male genitals). In voice-over narration, the main character talks about his lack of mobility and active imagination, including his desires for sex and, occasionally, death.

  • Families can talk about how the media can adopt different perspectives to tell different kinds of stories. How does seeing things from unexpected points of view affect how you feel about characters and their stories? Have you seen any other movies that have a similar point of view to this one? Families can also discuss Bauby's efforts to communicate even when it seems impossible. How do his memories affect his present-day perspective?

The good stuff
  • message true0

    Messages: Bauby regrets some earlier life choices: abandoning lovers, not spending time with his children, and indirectly causing a friend's imprisonment. After his paralysis, he's initially ironic and angry, then grows appreciative of women's efforts and his own father's pain.

What to watch for
  • violence false0

    Violence: Bauby suggests he'd like to die, at which point a therapist chides him for being selfish. Bauby remembers a past event when an associate was held hostage in Beirut (no images shown).

  • sex false5

    Sex: Partial female and male nudity (breasts/nipples, buttocks) during bed/love scenes. A man's genitals are shown in a non-sexual context. Repeated cleavage shots, as Bauby looks at his ex-lovers and therapists leaning in to him. Bauby fantasizes about a passionate meal and kissing and embracing a therapist. Slow-motion shot of nurses' bottoms as they walk. Bauby refers to his previous lusty life.

  • language false3

    Language: Language includes uses of "s--t" and "damn" (in French with subtitles).

  • consumerism false0

    Consumerism: Not an issue

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false3

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Several instances of smoking; drinking and drunkenness in a flashback scene.