Jean-Do’s stroke leaves him with locked in syndrome, he has full mental capacity, yet is rendered immobile in the ‘Diving Bell’ as he calls his paralysed body. Left with only ability to blink one eye Jean–Do communicates through a special alphabet, blinking when he reaches the letter he requires to complete his sentences. His rehab is aided by a voice therapist, physiotherapist and a selection of characters from his life before his stroke. Jean-Do’s children, their mother, his lover, father – himself dealing with illness- and friends all make appearances through the film. The relationships within Jean-Do’s family are in truth the real story on display, the stroke is merely an instrument to create the story I feel. Jean-Do clearly regrets the way in which he has acted to the mother of his children and indeed them, yet realises that in all probability he will never get the chance to become a better person to them. The overlaying of plotlines creates a heartbreaking film, yet the way it is directed, written and acted in manages to make it so that despite all the sadness it has aspects of an uplifting film.
Director Julian Schnabel does brilliantly to balance the many emotions and tangents that the story takes on, his background as an abstract painter serves him well with much of the film being delivered from the view of Jean-Do, creating a unique shot. The use of internal monologue layered with voices of friends and family really help to show the turmoil that Jean-Do goes through when trying to communicate. It also allows the use of some very dark humour, which is much needed in such an emotional film.
I have no criticisms of the film, I can think of no way in which to improve it, a truly great film I will definitely watch again.
Kino 4, Let The Right One In,
27th October 2009.