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If you go to the cinema to be entertained, amused, so as to fill up
your time, do not go out of your way to watch this film.
If you go to the cinema to appreciate the depths of human-kind, the feelings of real people, to explore the characteriology of personalities, if you go to the cinema to absorb magnificent photography, be sure to put this film very high on your list, preferably in first place. The experience is profoundly rewarding, causing the intelligent viewer to make diverse reflexions over the meaning of life itself. With 'Mar Adentro' Alejandro Amenábar has surpassed the best he has done to date, and even redeemed certain deviations in his earlier films which smacked a little of being aimed at Hollywood. This is not the case with this visual poem put to music: Hollywood could never get anywhere near the effect of this tinglingly inspired human - and humane - story.
In no way should one interpret 'Mar Adentro' as an apologia for euthanasia; this story, based on the real life of the Galician fisherman Ramón Sampedro, is a cry from the bottom of the heart for life and love, a reaching out for human compassion, for understanding emotions. Sampedro was an articulate and intelligent man who after a diving accident off the rocks of the Galician coast as a young man was condemned to live the next 27 years in bed. 'Condenado a vivir' (2001) (TV) was the first version of this man's life on which I have already commented. However, Amenábar has succeeded remarkably at portraying this man, with his permanent enigmatic smile and witty sense of humour, in an equally articulate and intelligent way.
And Javier Bardem rose to the occasion, met the challenge head-on, complete with a Galician accent, producing an electrifying, compelling, enthralling performance, such that the actor and the fisherman become fused into being the same person on screen. Here, indeed, is an occasion to doff your cap, and softly mutter 'chapeau'. Bardem is driven on in his task by a magnificent cast, especially Belén Rueda, Lola Dueñas, Mabel Rivera, Celso Bugallo (Los Lunes al Sol) (qv) and Clara Segura, Galician and Catalan accents taking prominent part.
Amenábar produces wonderful dialogues as these six rotate among themselves one-on-one, or in groups, with excellent chemistry, thus demonstrating that this young Chilean-born Spanish director is an artist who knows what he is at and how to get his results; his global concept of the film includes his own music, interspersed with pieces by Beethoven and Puccini on Sampedro's record-player.
Whilst viewing 'Mar Adentro', I found myself a couple of times comparing him and this film with Stephen Daldry and his masterpiece 'The Hours' (qv). I refer to the way in which the dialogues work with tenseness and passion and that careful sense of timing in each scene.
Javier Aguirresarobe's photography is superb as usual. As I have mentioned elsewhere on IMDb, he does not simply film the events and scenes - he captures even the feelings and the atmosphere of the moment, deftly catches that look in the eyes, light and shadows, such that his work behind the camera is at once another player in the story. A superb artist.
'Mar Adentro' is another landmark in the history of Spanish cinematography, among the best five or six works of art produced here in the last 25 years. This film places itself alongside such cinematographic art as 'El Sur' (qv), 'Los Santos Inocentes' (qv), 'El Abuelo' (qv), 'La Lengua de las Mariposas' (qv), 'Las Ratas' (qv), 'A Los Que Aman' (qv), and I think I must add 'Te Doy Mis Ojos' (qv).
Superbly orchestrated story of a real man, and those who loved him around his bedside: not to be missed.
Many more eloquent reviews than this have described the quite
spectacular acting, casting and styling of this film. It appears that
the only negative reviews focus on a perceived imbalance in the film's
handling of the core moral question (euthanasia).
This film is, bar the final scenes, meticulous in stressing Ramon's belief that he's not making some grand point but merely that, for him, a life devoid of dignity is a life not worth living. We, as viewers, see an enormous amount of dignity in his life - we see family and friends and culture and, but for its physical limitations, a life fully lived. Central to the tragedy of this film is that there is really only one person who thinks that Ramon's life is not worth living - and that is him.
To watch this film and say that the only counter argument comes from the visit of a bumbling priest is a nonsense. The priest's visit is pure farce, a direct assault on the simplicity of the Spanish Catholic Church's response to the issue of euthanasia. However, the sister's parting words to the priest momentarily expose the powerful 'pro-life' sentiments quietly underpinning the entire film. We are constantly encouraged to see the hope and the beauty of a life lived with love. As the film progresses, we may gradually be encouraged to understand Ramon's reasoning but we are never reconciled to his decision.
I do not remember a film which moved me and provoked me as much as this.
Director and co-writer Alejandro Amenabar didn't make things easy for
viewers of his taut, a bit overlong but very disturbing story,
accurately based on a Spanish man's struggle to obtain assisted
suicide. "Mar Adentro" ("The Sea Inside") is gripping and its impact
far exceeds the time spent in the theater.
With the award-winning Canadian movie, "The Barbarian Invasions," folks got to see a family along with a coterie of devoted friends address the wish of a beloved albeit irascible man to end his life. In that movie, the center of attention suffered from progressive, incurable cancer and his descent into a terminal stage was fast. Emotional as the scenes were, death was inevitable - the question was how gentle could it be made through solicited intervention.
Ramon Sampedro (brilliantly played by Javier Bardem) is a different story. For well over two decades he's been a quadriplegic because of a diving accident. (Very sharp viewers may detect a terrible irony as to why he ended in that condition because of his improvident dive.) Once a world traveler and lover of beautiful women, he now lies trapped in an immobile body, his every need attended to by a truly devoted family who willingly surrender much of their privacy and time to sustain their beloved relation.
Rosa (Lola Duenas), a single mom of two small boys, enters the Sampedro household out of what might have been mere curiosity to learn about the paralyzed man's plight but she becomes both an emotionally supportive centerpiece for Ramon as well as an amusing but occasionally aggravating presence. A nice performance by Duenas.
The problem, of course, is that Sampedro isn't sick in the normal sense. He may well live for decades more with proper care. So his softly but persistently voiced desire to end his life with "dignity" creates a moral dilemma for friends and relatives who, not surprisingly, react from different ethical and religious perspectives.
Ramon is the poster quad of a group dedicated to changing Spain's laws concerning assisted suicide. "Death with Dignity" is their watchword. Gene (Clara Segura) is a sensitive activist who enlists the aid of pro bono publico counsel, Julia (Belen Rueda). Julia has her own health issues which carry an indefinite but catastrophic prognosis. Happily married to a devoted spouse, she bonds emotionally with her client.
What follows is an acutely sensitive interplay of values and emotions. Ramon lives with his brother and wife, their technophile teenage son, not the intellectual Ramon is, and his aged dad who can't stop grieving over his son's cataclysmic descent into absolute helplessness.
The moral and legal issues are played out through excellent acting and short vignettes including a courtroom scene in which formalism triumphs over any judicial interpretation that might take into account Ramon's feelings and views. It may be Spain but the issues are alive in most countries, including the U.S.
Especially amusing is a shouted, first floor to bedroom, debate between Ramon with a drop-in, lecturing Jesuit priest, also a quadriplegic but one whose hidebound dogma casually masks the absence of a soul.
Special kudos to Mabel Rivera, Ramon's sister-in-law-Manuela, for a wrenchingly authentic portrayal of a strong woman who holds the family together. And the same compliment fulsomely extends to Belen Rueda, Julia, who segues from objective advocate to close friend to a woman hurtling towards a dark fate.
The director imposes no value judgments allowing each character full range to express his or her feelings effectively and, at times, movingly. Like "Dead Man Walking," this movie can support any view about its deadly subject.
No one can stop a person from committing suicide if he/she is determined but the universal tragedy of the world's Ramons is that without assistance, life in a body in which only the heart beats and only the head can move is a sentence no court could pronounce on the most depraved of criminals.
The cinematography is well-matched to the story and the beautiful Galician scenes are an intended contrast to the limited views the once globe-trotting Ramon experiences from his special bed.
Greetings again from the darkness. Director Alejandro Amenabar creates life against all odds in this based on a true story version of one man's struggle to control his destiny. The great Javier Bardem is fascinating to watch in his role as Ramon. His eyes and head movements leave little doubt what is going on in his mind. The dream and fantasy sequences are not overused so prove very effective in explaining why he wants what he wants. Rather than force us to answer the euthanasia question, the real question posed is , What is Love? At every turn we see people in love, looking for love or dying to be loved. The script is tight and keeps the film moving despite being filmed mostly in one room. The supporting cast is wonderful and we truly feel their pain and how each family member deals with Ramon's decision. This is a gem and deserves to be seen.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I saw Mar Adentro (Out at Sea would be the better translation) last Sunday. The movie is powerful and moving, as was the true story of Ramón Sampedro, a quadriplegic from a coastal village in Galicia (Northwest Spain). Sampedro lived for 27 years lying in a bed, unable to move but his neck and face, needing help and attention with everyday needs, and fighting a battle to obtain legal permission for somebody to assist him in his suicide. A sensitive and articulate man, Sampedro wrote (with his mouth), gave television interviews, and captivated the Spanish public with his good humour, his wit, his intelligence, and his dramatic and well-reasoned determination to be able to control his life and death. The legal battle was -predictably- lost, but Sampedro died anyway. It is no small feat that this real-life story remains as poignant on screen as it was in reality. Amenábar has intelligently stayed close to the real characters and their surroundings. Beautiful landscapes, an outstanding score (most of it by Amenábar himself, played and arranged by Carlos Núñez). The cast is prodigious overall. Bardem's performance as Sampedro is superb, even in points such as the slight Galician accent, convincing and never overdone. Few actors have so dominated a movie despite the limitations inherent in playing a quadriplegic. Mabel Rivera outshines the rest of the supporting cast as Sampedro's unselfish, undemanding, loving sister-in-law. Belén Rueda gives a competent performance as Julia, one of Sampedro's pro bono lawyers who suffers from a degenerative disease herself and is considering euthanasia. But her character is a weak presence in the movie, and only makes sense towards the end, when her disease has deprived her of the ability to choose. Most troublesome is the unconvincing love story between Julia and Sampedro; this may have been an attempt -in my view failed and superfluous- to underline how seductive a character Sampedro was; Bardem should have been trusted on that without this superficial prop. The multiplicity of characters combined with the slow-pace, majestic rhythm of the movie, punctuated by flights over breathtaking landscapes and the repetition of the scene of Sampedro's accident, are at odds with how many layers of complexity Amenábar can show in the time of a movie. And this may be the source of one of its few weaknesses: we are left with a slightly manichean view of things. For example, the only two characters not supportive of Sampedro's decision to die are slightly -or grossly- caricatured; one of them -a quadriplegic priest- provides one of the intensely comic moments of the film. This, in turn, is one of the many merits of the movie: faithful to Sampedro's personality, there is humour, there is wit, there are moments to laugh (Sampedro asks Julia for a cigarette; she reminds him that he does not smoke; he replies: I know, but what if it kills me?"). This is not a depressing movie, but a movie about the irreductible freedom of the human being, about dignity, about love, about self-sacrifice. And about our bonds to our fellow humans, how we create them, how we nourish them, how we abuse them, and how we must realize, painful as it may be, that we have no rights over other people's lives. Films like Mar Adentro remind you what movie-making is (or should be) about.
This story about a man's 28 year struggle for a death that would liberate him from his already dead body becomes a masterpiece to be remembered,thanks to a team of artists in a state of grace. Directed, written,edited and scored by Alejandro Amenabar, it touches you from the very first images, and doesn't leave your eyes and your heart to rest until the last credits, thanks to Alejandro and a group of wonderful actors and actresses at their best. Bardem is an acting animal:One of those few comedians that can make a masterpiece from almost any character, the supporting actresses are great in their roles and the story is told with such a sensibility that one laughs and cries in the same minute, as we used to do with the great old masterpieces. The year's best film in all senses. 10 / 10
This small, quiet, harmonious movie grows into a masterpiece on human dignity. It is intelligently structured, filled with meaningful little details and important side-plots. It tells a story of one man with great humanity without positioning itself politically, but fostering life as a precious right (not an obligation) and underlining individual's right to choose. It enjoys the richness of different landscapes (mental and physical) and languages (important detail). Outstanding acting by each of the actors, especially unbelievable Javier Bardem. His screen-presence has such a force that you forget that this is fiction. The movie has a wonderful rhythm, it is beautifully shot and outstandingly directed. It takes real talent to make a movie on such a difficult theme with understanding, humour and heart. Six stars out of five.
Alejandro Amenabar, the young and talented Spanish director, clearly
shows us he is a serious film maker. Anyone doubting it, should have a
look at his latest film "The Sea Inside". This is a movie that has been
rewarded with numerous accolades, not only in Spain, but throughout the
world, wherever this wonderful movie has been shown.
If you have not seen the film, perhaps you would like to stop here.
Ramon Sampedro is a man confined to bed. Being quadriplegic, he depends on the kindness of strangers for everything. Since his accident, Ramon only thinks in one thing alone: how to end his life! This is the moral issue at the center of the story, based on the real Ramon Sampedro's life.
Mr. Amenabar tells the story from Ramon's point of view. There is nothing here that is false or manipulative on his part. After all, he relies on facts that were well known in his country as this case became a "cause celebre" in favor of euthanasia, a theme that no one in that country wanted to deal with in Spain.
With its background of being a predominantly Roman Catholic country, Spain has evolved into one of the most democratic societies in Europe, a distinction that is more notable because of its long years dominated by a dictator. Yet, in spite of the advances in that society, the idea of taking one's own life, is something not clearly understood by the majority of its citizens, who still considered this subject as something that could not be done in their country.
Ramon Sampedro was a man that loved life. He lived an intense life as a young man when he enlisted as a sailor to discover the world. Having no money, this was the only way for him to see other lands, experience other cultures. Ramon's love affair with the sea, is something that people in Galicia learn to love from their childhood. Imagine how that same friendly sea is the one that takes away Ramon's life, as he knew it! In a second, Ramon goes from a vibrant young man into a vegetable!
Ramon's family is shattered by the experience. Suddenly they must leave everything aside to take care of him at home. His brother and sister-in-law, are stoic people that deal with the situation as a matter of fact. Their lives become something of an afterthought, because Ramon's life comes first. They tend to the sick man without protesting, or blaming Ramon for the sacrifices they must make to keep him alive.
That is why, in their minds, the Sampedros can't comprehend Ramon's wishes to end it all. Haven't they given up having a normal life to take care of him? This moral issue weighs heavily on these uncomplicated and simple people because in their minds, they are doing what came naturally.
The second subject of the movie is the legal issue of the euthanasia and the well meaning people that suddenly enter Ramon's life in their desire to help him put an end to his suffering. There's Julia, the lawyer who is herself handicapped and suffers from a rare malady. There is Rosa, the fish cannery worker who becomes infatuated with Ramon.
Javier Bardem, makes a brilliant Ramon Sampedro. His transformation is total. We don't doubt from one moment he is no one else but the paralyzed man on that bed. Mr. Bardem can only use his face in order to convey all the emotions trapped inside Ramon. Mr. Bardem makes this man real. This is perhaps Javier Bardem's best role of his career. He surpasses his own award winning performance as Reynaldo Arenas, the late Cuban poet he portrayed in "Before Night Falls".
In the supporting roles, Belen Rueda, makes an impressive appearance as Julia, the woman fighting her own physical problems. Lola Duenas is also effective as Rosa, the kindred soul that loves Ramon deeply. Celso Bugallo, as Ramon's brother shows a man at a crossroads of his own life. Mabel Rivera makes a compassionate Manuela, the sister-in-law that never asks anything of life, but tends to Ramon without questioning why she has to do it, at all.
Mr. Amenabar also has composed the haunting music score for the film. He is a man that never cease to surprise. One wonders what his next project will be, but one wishes him success in whatever he might decide to do in the future.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I had the privilege to watch Mar Adentro last Friday, and I am still
shocked by its beauty, the powerful work of every single actor and
actress and Amenabar's unbelievable ability to narrate the story of
Ramón Sampedro, who was well known in Spain for asking for a legal
euthanasia, lost the court cause, and eventually died in front of a
camera drinking a glass with poison, freezing all our hearts with his
determination not to go on living forever immobilized because of an
Before watching the movie I was already mesmerized by the strong symbology in its title, which I would translate as "Into the Sea" and not as some suggest "Out to sea", and which is taken from an original poem written by the man this story is about. Then I watched the movie. Oh my friends. This is Cinema with a capital C. The narration flows to take you to the heart of every single character: Sampedro, reincarnated in a Bardem that you forget from the very beginning, is in the center as a man full of sense of humour and full of hope, and his hope is to die, because for him, the life he is living is not worthy to be lived. The rest of the characters but one dance around him and respect his decision because they see him as a human independent being (forgetting he depends on the others for everything), even though they do love him so much. And this is what the movie is about: love. You can feel it, you can breathe it in the skin of every character. You witness the growing of the feeling within three women who meet him in the movie: Gené, the member of the association that defend his right to die with dignity, his friend, her story in the movie is the hope for us the lucky ones that can live a normal life in this world; Rosa, the woman who meets a good man in the middle of her list of broken relationships and pain in the hands of all the men who used her and despised her; Julia, the woman who shares a tragic destiny with Ramón, and eventually acts in a way we cannot but only understand.
However, before meeting these women Ramón knew what was love like, because you cannot meet him without loving him, and he is deeply loved by his abnegated family: Four characters unique in their humbleness and bravery, each with their own thoughts about his decision, each thought respectable in its own way, because the terrible thing about this story is that nobody is to blame for what happened. That, sadly, life sometimes is that terrible. From this familiar quartet I specially liked Mabel Rivera's work as Ramón's sister in law, Manuela: a terrific performance.
I would like to draw attention to three episodes that are for me the best climax points I have seen in a long time, and if you haven't seen the movie don't read this, pass over this paragraph and read again from the next one starting "Mar adentro", let the movie show its secrets to you. The episodes I loved were: 3. The best love scene I have seen in a movie, when I really felt love invading the screen, is when Ramón dreams awake that he is flying to meet Julia in the beach and they kiss each other. 2. Gené speaking by phone with Ramón, the day before he is going to do it, and he tells her it is better they say goodbye at that very moment, not to put her in trouble with the authorities. And then she knows it is the last time they are going to talk, and she has fought for his right to die... but she does not want to lose him, because she loves him as a true friend, and even though she is respecting his decision at all cost. 1. The best. A young Ramón in the beach, looking at his girlfriend under the sun, jumping to the water from the rocks to a sea that is retreating. We see the crash, we hear his voice recalling what happened and claiming he should have died that very moment. The face of Bardem, face downward, shown to us from the bottom. And the hand of a friend who pulls him from the forehead and brings him back to a life that will be a hell for him in the next 30 years. There are many others, like the impressive ending, in spite of the fact that in Spain we know too well what Ramon did.
Mar adentro did not deceive me, Amenabar never does, but this time he has to thank the actors that took part in the project, and who maybe took it personally, because this is not just a movie, it is an elegy to a man who died alone when he was asking to die "legally", which meant for him, as Bardem pointed out, dying with the people he loved and who loved him around.
In Spain, the former sailor Ramón Sampedro (Javier Bardem) has been
quadriplegic for twenty-eight years and is fighting in court for his
right of practicing euthanasia through an association that defends the
freedom of choice and leaded by his friend Géne (Clara Segura). Ramón
is introduced to the lawyer that is defending his cause, Julia (Belén
Rueda), who has a degenerative fatal disease; and meets Rosa (Lola
Dueñas), a lonely worker that has been abused by men. Their
relationship changes the behavior and viewpoint of life of Rosa and
The Chilean Alejandro Amenábar is, in my opinion, one of the best contemporary directors. His filmography released in Brazil is composed by excellent and original movies: "Abre Los Ojos", "Tesis", "The Others" and "Mar Adentro". Javier Bardem is probably the best actor in Spain in the present days. Their association produced this sensitive drama about a very polemic theme, the right of committing euthanasia. This drama is never corny or depressive, since the screenplay uses humor as a relieve valve in the most dramatic situations. The performances of the cast are perfect, with characters having and defending different positions regarding this unpleasant theme. The dialogs and lines are very solid and intelligent. I noted in IMDb plot outline that this movie is based on the real-life story of Ramón Sampedro. Unfortunately, neither the movie nor the DVD gives this important information. My vote is nine.
Title (Brazil): "Mar Adentro" ("Sea Inside")
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