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You can't move. At least nothing below the neck moves. You can't turn
around. You can't eat or drink unaided, or do, choose, or effectively
decide, very much for that matter.
Once you had a full life, travelling the world as a ship hand, living and loving to the full. Inside, your spirit still soars, racing along the beach, catching the spray of the waves, smelling the hair of a woman in your arms. But now your spirit has been disenfranchised, stranded behind the veil of your dreams. You have become a distant observer of your own life, powerless to get involved, a ghost at the wheel.
This is the evocative story based on the real life Ramon Sanpedro who became a quadriplegic after a diving accident, and it is the film's brilliant interiorisation of his world, making the audience feel and see things as if they were the highly articulate Ramon, that gives it the gut-wrenching force to scale the heights of emotional grandeur - rather than wallowing in the grim mire of a sentimental 'message' movie.
Early on, the audience is tantalisingly entrusted with the attraction that this unusual man convincingly conveys. Manuela, his sister in law, is devoted to him. Rosa, a struggling local DJ and factory worker, is enamoured of him. But it is Julia, a beautiful lawyer representing him that most understands and empathises with him, partly as she has a dark secret of her own. The right to die campaign worker, Gene, is inexhaustibly supportive, and one of the most well balanced characters morally. But with who, if any, will romantic flights of fancy become physical? And who, if any, will help him achieve his wish to say goodbye to the world if and when the courts fail him in his quest?
The Sea Inside is a quiet revelation that packs emotional honesty, a memorable script (using excerpts from Sanpedro's poetry) and superb acting from Javier Bardem. It tackles a difficult subject more thoroughly and engagingly than has ever been done before and kept me wide awake with eyes glued to the screen even after an exhausting day. Its weakest point is that those of a different viewpoint are handled without the gravitas afforded Sanpedro's own wish to end his life. The visiting priest is an object of ridicule and humour and, while this provides some excellent light relief, it smacks of an absence of intellectual rigour in an otherwise very thorough examination of the issues. But this is only a small criticism in what is otherwise a monumental and highly recommendable film.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Ramon Sampedro has been a quadriplegic for nearly three decades as a
result of an accident in his mid-twenties. Restricted to movements from
only neck and up, he is under the tireless care of his family of four,
a loving widower father, a stubbonly religious and honest brother, a
sister-in-law who treats him like her own son and a sensible though not
particularly intellectual nephew. This film is about Ramon's sober,
calm, but fiercely determined effort to seek consent from the Spanish
courts for euthanasia.
This is not an emotional decision. His life after the accident has not been devoid of bliss. He is blessed with a loving and caring family that makes his handicap less difficult to endure. He is talented and his talent is gratified in his ability to write beautiful poetry, and he has learned to "cry with a smile". After 26 years, inertia alone might sustain his carrying on. But he says he no longer wants to live without dignity. I think the real reason for him to want to die, particularly at this point, may be that he no longer wants to be a burden to his family. His father, while still healthy, is old. His brother and sister-in-law are both older than he. His nephew will finish school soon and deserves to focus on his future and career.
Here comes the biggest irony. We see so much zeal, energy, vitality and LIFE in Ramon's quest to seek death. Through his good friend and death-right activist Gene and her husband, he engages a lawyer to fight the legal battle, culminating in his yielding his resistance to wheelchairs, so as to be able to appear in court to demonstrate that his is a fully rational and responsible man, capable of making a well-reasoned decisions. Interesting to note that during this time, Gene is pregnant and the scene of childbirth punctuates Ramon's effort to gain death.
Julia, the lawyer undertaking his case, is a gentle, perceptive woman, happily married but suffering herself from a disease that progressively destroys her, first putting her in a wheelchair and eventually damaging her brain. What we see in most of the film though is the development of a wonderful love story between Ramon and Julia, from their working on the case, their gradually understanding, appreciating and empathizing with each other, and Julia's helping Ramon to get his poetry published.
Another woman that comes into Ramon's life is Rosa, a divorced factory worker with two children. Rosa has read about Raman and wants to persuade him to continue to embrace life. Not at Ramon's intellectual plane but shrewd in her own way, Rosa soon falls in love with him. At the end she become the one who helps Ramon to gain his wish after the court turns down his request.
The most remarkable thing about this film is that it is so full on life. Part of this is in the vivid energy with which Ramon pursues his purpose, so vibrant that you sometimes forget that this purpose is death. Part of this is in another line of activity first the discovery, then the publishing of Ramon's poetry. But mostly, it is in Ramon himself. If there is self-pity, you see very little of it. He is articulate in his arguments and firm in his conviction. He can be irritable, but he can also be humorous and gentle. He is intelligent and charming, so much so that both Julia and Rosa, from very different backgrounds, fall in love with him almost instantly. And all these are portrayed by Javier Bardem, acting from only his neck up. Surely, language should not be a barrier to his winning the Best Actor Oscar this year.
This film is rich in every aspect, deeply moving at times, hilarious funny at others. The cast is wonderful. In addition to the two women who fall in love with Ramon, played by Belen Rueda (Julia) and Lola Duenas (Rosa), special mention must be made of Mabel Rivera, whose simple and enduring goodness as Manuela the sister-in-law will surely break the hardest heart.
For an artistically splendorous scene, everyone will remember Ramon's flight out of the window, over the vales, to yonder lovely shore, under the rousing music of probably the most popular tenors' show-off aria Nessun Dorma.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Alejandro Amenabar's The Sea Inside delivers the story of Ramon
Sampedro, a man beseeching the Spanish justices to tolerate euthanasia
on his behalf. The film seemingly sympathizes with its main character's
wishes as the majority of the characters are willing to assist Sampedro
in his plight. The only consistently protestant character is Sampedro's
brother yet his objective sets him apart as an antagonistic force to
battle rather than to reason with. Throughout the course of the film
one's predictions as to the outcome fluctuate, as it is hard to
determine whether Sampedro will go through with his death wish or admit
that life is not as terrible as it might seem. As the film progresses
one finds it increasingly difficult to watch, given the main
character's unrelenting pessimism despite the plethora of loving
individuals that surround and admire him.
As Sampedro's story unfolds the things he reveals about his life make it more difficult to sympathize with him. For example when asked about love Sampedro admits that he had a girlfriend at the time he was paralyzed; she remained with him through his hospitalization and asked that they be married. Sampedro refused her, claiming that he was incapable of loving in his condition. When encouraged to view love as more than mere physicality Sampedro states that he cannot. The main character speaks critically of everyone around him, at times causing his family and friend pain due to his evident bitterness. Aside from his voluntarily grizzly persona, Sampedro's character is notably intelligent, inventive and imaginative. He is able to dream, but only of death. He is able to write, but only of the hell that holds him captive. He is able to remember, yet chooses to reminisce only of his accident.
The film is difficult to endure, especially as it nears its close. Sampedro denounces the love of those who refuse to assist him in his suicide. He lashes out against his family and friends until at last one young woman, desperate to receive love from someone, agrees to help him with his plight. She procures a poison, rents an apartment and sets Sampedro up with a camera. Sampedro speaks to the justices, through the camera, telling them that he will have his way whether it is legal or not. He then sips the poison and dies on film. Before the film ends, however, it revisits a close friend of Sampedro who decided against euthanasia despite living with a degenerative disease. She is seen sitting in a wheel chair near the beach, is evidently blind, and has lost her memory. Even after this moment it is difficult to determine if the film is supporting or criticizing euthanasia. One could argue that the woman's quality of life had been degrading by the disease and yet her determination and her husband's dedication are both admirable. It is difficult to ignore the fact that Sampedro's mind was never at risk of deteriorating and so his death allows him to avoid being emotionally burdened by an event that changed his life almost thirty years ago. While the viewer's external context establishes a bias toward the issue even prior to watching the film, Sampedro's nastiness and lack of will do little to encourage support or understanding on his behalf.
THE SEA INSIDE (2004) **** Javier Bardem, Belen Rueda, Lola Duenas,
Mabel Rivera, Celso Bugallo, Joan Dalmau, Alberto Jimenez, Tamar Novas,
Francesc Garrido, Jose Maria Pou, Alberto Amarilla, Nicolas Fernandez
Luna.(Dir: Alejandro Amenabar)
An inspiring tale of a living death; Bardem is superb
The true life account of Spanish quadriplegic Ramon Sampedro and his petition to fulfill his desire for euthanasia by the right to die may not be considered a likely source of inspiration but this film is just that.
Sampedro (played superbly by Bardem) was a virile, energetic young man when he lost the function to his limbs after a tragic diving accident (recounted horrifically in flashback with a visceral jolt to the senses) and for nearly thirty years lay paralyzed in bed while his loving family cared to his every need. Although his abilities to move were nil his mind was very much active and proved skillful as an inventor, poet, author and artist that kept his mind busy until he could no longer bear the thought of living longer in his stunted condition.
Enter beautiful yet also afflicted with a crippling disease attorney Julia (the ethereal Rueda who matches Bardem beautifully as if they were indeed soul mates) is hired to see through Sampedro's final wish to end his life and in turn becomes an aide de camp when he begins to open up to her like to no one ever before. Not too long has time passed and Julia begins to investigate her charge's past discovering many letters hidden away by his family. When Julia confronts Ramon with this he at first is reluctant to discuss any thing with her but eventually he agrees with her that this may help his case and the project becomes a book in the making a memoir/biography by way of free-style poetry and prose.
The film is a heartbreaking tale of the human spirit and how love eventually triumphs over heart ache in many forms including for Ramon the unlikely love he shares with a complete stranger named Rosa (Duenas) a single mother who sees him on TV one day inspiring her to bicycle to his remote farmhouse in Spain to get to know him and possibly change his mind about ending his life.
Filmmaker Amenabar, who co-wrote with Mateo Gil the fascinating screenplay, allows some fantasy into the mix when Ramon envisions himself magically leaving his bed and flying across the bucolic landscapes to the eventual sea where he suffered so many years ago the cruel twist of fate that has imprisoned him for three decades. The film is not a complete downer with a sly wit and occasionally humorous tone throughout that doesn't dilute the impact of the story's final act. Kudos also to the remarkable make-up job by James and Jo Allen do a tremendous job in aging the vibrant Bardem to an aging man to full effect that should get them an Acadamy Award nod.
Bardem and Rueda deserve Oscar nominations as two people with so much in common and despite Rueda's Julia being married to a loving, doting husband, that a pair of people so made for one another it is down right impossible they were never together to begin with. That's just one of the cruelties that rings true but it is not by definition of the film as its whole; it is a must-see and one of the year's best.
-Facts (I): "Mar Adentro" relates the well-known (at least in Spain)
story of Ramón Sampedro, a Galician quadriplegic who killed himself
(helped by some friends) after 28 years prostrated by his condition.
Judges had denied several times his petitions of active euthanasia.
-Facts (II): "Mar adentro" becomes THE MOVIE OF THE YEAR in Spain. Everyone talks about it: politicians, singers, ordinary people... Everyone likes it, even the critics' opinions are unanimous. The film wins a lot of prizes (Golden Globe, Oscar, Goya...) and annoys catholic community and life-lovers quadriplegics. A star is born.
-Facts (III): The intensity and the quality of the actors in "Mar Adentro" are just amazing, and this makes mi wonder how come we have to watch the same bad young actors in the most of Spanish latest movies. I don't know if Javier Bardem is a great actor or a great imitator (there's quite a difference between one thing or the other); anyway, his job is just impressive, as well as Lola Dueñas', Belén Rueda's, or the job of all the guest starrings. This is (the actors selection) the strong point in Amenábar's movie.
-Facts (IV): Alejandro Amenábar learned his lesson there at the Cinema School, there's no doubt about it: he's got a privileged brain. He takes good control of each and every one of the technical aspects, he knows what the audiences want, he knows how to touch the right chord, even if that turns him into such a demagogue (just like Spielberg is -one of Amenábar's idols-).
-Facts (and V): If you criticize a movie such as "Mar Adentro" it will seem like you have any kind of trouble with the moral issue the story tells about. There's a trap in this kind of pictures: you have to differentiate between the movie itself and the moral concepts. If you don't like "Schindler's List" that does not mean that you agree with Hitler's philosophy (or do you?). So, for me, it is a good film and an extraordinary story (since it is a real story that makes it much more extraordinary). Grandiloquent, self-kind, and everything but neutral (no matter what Amenábar or Bardem have said about it: those characters that are not in favor of euthanasia come to no good at all!!). 50 % Hard / 50% way too sentimental.
-Epilogue: "Mar Adentro" wouldn't be by no mean in my ranking of the best 50's Spanish movies of all time. Nobody has special merits in the story but Ramon Sampedro himself. He IS the movie. Now, Alejandro Amenábar is gonna become the more international Spanish director ever, maybe he'll go to live to Hollywood; but some of us would like to watch him filming a simple story, without bit final twists, without living dead nor dying alive... "The Others" is still his best movie.
*My rate: 7/10
Powerful, thought-provoking movie about life, death and the right to
The true story of Ramon Sampedro, a Spanish quadriplegic for 29 years who fought for the right to kill himself. Explores his and motivations and rationality for wanting to commit suicide, plus life, loves and psyche.
Told from Sampedro's perspective, so not entirely a balanced debate. However, there are some characters in the movie who represent the "don't do it" argument, though their arguments aren't as forcefully told or as coherent as the lead character's.
Very emotional at times, and the last few scenes are incredibly powerful.
Superb performance by Javier Bardem in the lead role. Supporting cast don't put a foot wrong either.
Won the best Foreign Language Film Oscar in 2005. Interesting to note that in 2005 the Best Picture Oscar (plus a few other Oscars) went to the brilliant "Million Dollar Baby", which explored similar themes.
As The Sea Inside indicates, the right to die with dignity is a very
controversial issue not only in Spain, where the setting of this film
is, but all over the world including countries like the United States.
With that in mind, this film packed an emotional wallop as we learn the
story about this man who wanted to die, despite being in relatively
good health. This is a well-acted melodrama that is very hard to watch
and even the strongest person may have a tear or two in his eye.
Alejandro Amenabar's film is about a quadriplegic named Ramon Sampredo who fought for 28 years for the right to die after suffering a horrific injury in a diving accident. Ramon must face an uphill battle as he deals with the protests from the court of Spain as well as his family members.
Javier Bardem delivers one of his best performances here as Ramon. Despite all what he is going through, he remains a cheery guy who smiles often. But once we hear the pain he is in and how he has enough of being in bed and unable to live life anymore, we can see this pain resonates. Javier Bardem does an excellent job on capturing the emotion and the reality of the suffering these kind of people face. Meanwhile, the two women who he becomes attached to did a great job. Belen Rueda as Julia and Lola Duenas as Rosa.
Overall, The Sea Inside is a tough film to watch because of the subject matter but nonetheless, it is still a very good film that is very well made. Not only is the acting tremendous, but things that stand out are the makeup and the screenplay. This film has a very strong script and the makeup does a good job in transforming Javier Bardem into the man who wanted to die. Such a powerful film. I rate this film 9/10.
The Sea Inside is a fantastic Spanish film starring Javier Bardem as a
quadriplegic who wants to end his life with dignity. I know that a lot
of people will condemn this film for supporting euthanasia and giving a
one-sided debate, but this isn't a film about a euthanasia debate. It's
not something a religious studies teacher will put on for their GCSE
class. The Sea Inside is simply about Ramon and the brilliantly written
characters which surround him. I firstly have to praise the outstanding
performances in this film. Javier Bardem is extraordinary as Ramon and
manages to pull off a string of different emotions without using any
part of his body (aside from his head of course). It's a magnificent
performance and far from his psychopathic Sugar in No Country For Old
Men. Belen Rueda (a somewhat underrated actress) is also breath-taking
in her role as a lawyer befriending Ramon and suffering from a life
threatening disease herself.
The Sea Inside manages to captivate its viewers for its entire two hour running time, which is no mean feat for a film largely set in a man's bedroom. Alejandro Amenábar's directing is often extraordinary and always captivating. There's a magnificently heart-breaking moment where Ramon imagines getting out of bed and flies out of the window to the operatic tune of Nessun Dorma. The fluid camera work is quite extraordinary and dream-like. It perfectly captures Ramon's desire to be free, and makes us all appreciate the use of our able bodies.
Alejandro Amenábar's screen writing screens are also quite brilliant. Whilst the film does have plenty of emotionally draining moments, there are also plenty of uplifting ones too to make you smile. He makes Ramon a sympathetic and extremely likable character, as well as the good-natured people who surround him. I especially enjoyed the romantic sub-plot which is sure to pull at anyone's heart strings. The Sea Inside largely works so well because of its magnificent characters and powerful dialogue.
The film is all the more painful to watch because we know how it's going to end. The suicide scene is pretty intense to watch with the camera stationary, allowing us to see Ramon die almost like in real time. And whilst the film may not be as relentlessly painful to watch as say, Amour, it still has plenty of powerful moments and many did actually pull on my tear ducts, which is a very rare thing for me. The only films to actually make me cry are Amour and Dancer in the Dark, but The Sea Inside did make me tearful. This is a fantastic film about humanity and the right to freedom. It's a film I'd highly recommend to everybody.
I've been a fan of Javier Bardem ever since No Country For Old Men came out back in 2007. His presence on screen was something extraordinary and i could tell the guy knew how to act. Sea Inside is definitely a film were his talent shines. The character he plays as is a paraplegic. After an unfortunate accident, he's left paralyzed from the neck down. After so many years he decides that he's had enough and wants to attempt suicide. As he tries to find the right person to help him, we get to meet so many great characters played by many great actors/actresses. From his family to his friends, you get this emotional bond between everyone and it really makes for a real powerhouse. You will believe Bardem is paralyzed, it's so effective. He makes it seem so realistic from beginning to end. This film has a very deep and dark meaning that anyone could feel for. It'll make you cry, it'll make you laugh and it will leave you in silence. If your a fan of Javier Bardem, or your a fan of a good and solid piece of art, do your self a favor and see this movie.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is truly a masterpiece. Although it may deal with a rather tabooed
topic by most people (euthanasia) it really is worth watching. The real
reason I wanted to watch this is that I wanted to broaden my horizon of
Foreign films away from Scandanavian cinema (which some of those are
hidden gems too) so I decided to look up countries of which I have seen
a film of theirs before (in this case Spain) and found this.
The plot is that a quadriplegic by the name of Ramon Sampredo has fought for almost 30 years to die. This basically is the last few months of his life. It may not seem like much but the execution is brilliant.
The dialogue of this movie is really intelligent. I was impressed with the writing of this movie. So one expectation I'll say to have is strong dialogue, because in that sense it will be fulfilled.
I will recommend this movie to anybody who wants to see a well made drama movie, regardless of how you feel about euthanasia.
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