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Euthanasia is a challenging moral issue on which there are any number
of stances, but "The Sea Inside" manages to make its audience put all
that aside and just pay attention to the true personal story of Ramon
Sampedro is hard to crack. Javier Bardem had the enormous challenge of becoming a man who was so utterly convinced and so at peace with the idea of ending his own life. You can't simply chock that up to Sampedro being mentally disturbed or psychologically wounded, even if the film suggests he was more wounded than he allowed himself to admit. Bottom line is that in spite of being a quadriplegic, he had all his wits about him; he just felt death was the best way to move forward.
That's not easy to understand as a viewer. The notion that nothing, absolutely nothing, would give Ramon cause to live, is tough to swallow. In the film we're treated to a number of meaningful relationships in Ramon's life. He bonds with his nephew, Javi (Tamar Novas), becomes smitten with his new attorney, Julia (Belen Rueda), and forges a new friendship with Rosa (Lola Duenas), a woman moved by his story and convinced she can help him see cause to live again. Yet his belief in his right to "die with dignity" is so totally resolute.
Spanish writer and director Alejandro Amenabar and co-writer Mateo Gil give us a full range of perspectives on Ramon and his situation and keeps the movie intensely personal. We don't see many court room scenes; this is no Hollywood biopic in which the main character crusades for what he believes in and receives some swelling emotional climax for his efforts. In fact, the film leaves us on quite the opposite note with a haunting final scene as Ramon decides to take his own life when the courts will not grant him the permission to do so legally.
As so many great European filmmakers tend to do, Amenabar also gives us a poetic side to Ramon's story, which in this case is especially fitting because Ramon is an excellent writer and poet. Between the title and the film's opening, it's not shy about this notion of the sea inside, which is Ramon's mental escape from his physical reality, though to complicate matters, the sea is also directly tied to how Ramon ended up a quadriplegic.
We connect most to Ramon through the dream scenes, through his fantasy. Despite the limited degree of empathy we can possible have for him, we still identify so clearly with his longing and desire, and Amenabar gives this to us with such a soft, deft touch.
We also see Ramon as his friends and loved ones see him. The film explores the psychology at work when someone you are so close to, someone you have helped and cared for for years and years, wishes they were dead. The degree of public attention on that wish makes it all the more challenging for these characters, many of who we like, many of whom we don't. We get to see them just as we see Ramon in 360 degrees.
As a Western viewer, there's a definite itch to see a bit more of the technical side, to explore Ramon's story in the large context that is the euthanasia debate, but Amenabar does such a incredible job convincing us that there's no need for it. This is an issue that has a clear face, that can and maybe should be judged on a personal level. In this particular instance, there's no public debate without a personal decision. If Ramon did not want this for himself, then no one would be having this conversation.
Consequently, each viewer will grapple with the issues in this movie on an intensely personal level. Personally, I went back and forth as the film did, so purely wanting Ramon to win his own personal right to decide, yet wanting so desperately for him to find cause to live. In bringing this conundrum to this personal level, Amenabar effectively captures the large-scale complexity of this issue.
"The Sea Inside" is a great film for the way it accesses these ideas, not so much in the power of its drama, but regardless it leaves a lasting impression.
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the definition of the great movie for me is the one that doesn't have
the absolute "right" or "wrong" side, it should be the one that stick
in that gray area. The movie that makes you think or question about
For me, this kind of movie experience is profoundly rewarding, a question about the choice you make in your life, a question about your life existence, a question about the life itself.
this is my first Javier bardem's movie and i'm sure it wont be the last, he gives such an electrifying, believable, enthralling performance as the real life ramon, yup it's a true life story about the person who want to die with a dignity, Life is indeed about a choice.
Javier Barden stars as Ramon Sampedro, a quadriplegic who fought for
the right to die for twenty nine years. His lawyer, Julia, suffers from
an incurable medical condition supports his choice and fights the legal
system with him.
Another woman, Rosa, loves him and tries to change Ramon's mind regarding suicide. Bardem is as good as any actor I have ever seen and this performance ranks with his Oscar winning role in No Country for Old Men.
Ramon's brother Jose and his family make his survival possible, so he feels like he is a burden on them. The court case drags on and on, until he has reached fifty four years of age and a decision is finally reached. There are no easy answers to this moral dilemma, and The Sea Inside doesn't preach to the audience from one side or the other. Love, life, and death are tackled in a deep and insightful way with the great Javier Bardem leading the way.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I can't praise this film enough - the style, compassionate treatment of a serious subject (euthanasia), and the brilliant portrayals by a team of magnificent actors headed by Javier Bardem in what must be one of his best roles. Despite the sadness, poignancy, and vulnerability of the characters, everyone comes across as strong beings and the whole film verifies rather than belittles life and proves love stronger than life itself. A wonderful film experience which I recommend without hesitation to anyone looking for something more in their film viewing than Hollywood treatments of real subjects. The Spanish directors Amenabar and Almodovar prove over and over again the superb quality of film-making in Spain and the excellence of their actors.
Ramon(Javier Bardem) expresses his desire to die amidst the mental turmoil he is facing as a result of becoming a quadriplegic due to a tragic accident. His family is in complete denial of his mental condition as they have provided love and care that can make him feel secure. This denial and deep sadness is palpable when a famous personality (who is also a quadriplegic) arrogantly proclaims that Ramon wants to kill himself as a result of the negligence from his family. Then there is Julia, a lawyer who takes a curious interest in his case and supports his cause. And there is Rosa, who wants to show him how beautiful life is.Each of these women reveals secrets that directly impact how they feel about Ramon's decision. To us, the viewers this creates a moral dilemma as both of them appeal to our principles thereby forcing us to think deeply about why Ramon feels this way. The director does a fantastic job of bringing to the table a variety of situations that share a glimpse of Ramon's world. In spite of the influences that people have around him, Ramon very calmly never flinches from his decision, almost always giving an impression of eerie obviousness that we cannot perceive.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The notion of carrying out one's life for the sake of carrying out one's life is the main concept that is criticized in Alejandro Amenabar's film. Dark conversations about death take place in a sky-lit room with a verdant and serene view, while moments of raw human optimism occur in darkness, with only a hint of a rusty sunset. Visually, this film shows what it needs to when it needs to in order to induce empathy, but not pity from the viewer (i.e. the final death scene). Expression of human dignity is the foundation of this movie, and Amenabar goes to many lengths to show its intrinsic value. The scenes of Ramon flying to the sea while Luciano Pavarotti's "Nessun Dorma" guides him is a good example of how the movie doesn't rely heavily on a linear plot to get its point across. Instead, it highlights human aspirations and dignity to not settle for less. It doesn't fall victim or feel the need to over-complicate its plot with twists or turns, but simply presents instances of bliss within the tragedy of death, allowing the viewer to interpret them to their liking. It is important to note that this film is not the cliché call to action to stop taking things (i.e. mobility) for granted, but an exploration of how one can smile in the dark, or cry in the midst of a pristine shoreline. The choice to do either is there.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Alejandro Amenábar's Academy Award-winning film, Mar Adentro, looks at
the life and death of Spaniard, quadriplegic, and assisted suicide
campaigner, Ramon Sampedro (Javier Bardem).
Based on the true story of Sampedro's attempt to win a right to die decision, the film does not spend much time on the deep and often dark concept of euthanasia. Instead Amenábar illustrates Sampedro's close relationships with family and friends. In particular the film follows the bed-ridden Sampedro as he develops an intimate and beautiful friendship with his lawyer, Julia (Belén Rueda), who also suffers from a debilitating disease. Even though Julia is married to someone else, the two share a deep understanding of personal struggle. During their many bedside talks, Julia gives film viewers a glimpse into Sampedro's life before paralysis as she draws his story from him. Eventually, the viewer learns that Sampedro broke his neck while diving into a shallow part of the sea. He would have wanted to drown but a friend came to his rescue.
Amenábar's elegant portrayal of Sampedro's relationship with his own feelings is worth mentioning. Lying in bed, holding a pen attached to a stick in his mouth, Sampedro laboriously recorded his thoughts about life and his right to die. In the film Julia discovers them and encourages, and ultimately helps him to compile them into a book. One of the film's more intimate moments takes place when Sampedro read parts of an essay to Julia. "To worship you and penetrate you, eternally, my seductive lover, the beloved sea, " he said and then admitted to fantasizing about a relationship with her. After Julia kissed him for real, a blank stare appeared on his face as if he is stuck somewhere between his dreams and reality.
"Out to sea," he said in his goodbye letter to Julia. "Out to sea and in the weightlessness of the deep where dreams come true, two souls unite to fulfill a single wish." Mar Adentro left me contemplating that void as I watched Sampedro lose his case in court but take his own life anyway and plunge again, into the deep.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"Based on the profoundly moving true story that captured the world's
attention, 'The Sea Inside' is about Spaniard Ramón Sampedro (played by
'Oscar' nominee Javier Bardem), who fought a 30-year campaign to win
the right to end his life with dignity. 'The Sea Inside' also explores
Ramón's relationships with two women, and his ability to inspire them
through his gift of love. A truly joyous experience, 'The Sea Inside'
celebrates the nature of freedom and love, and the mystery and beauty
of life," according to the DVD sleeve's synopsis.
While overtly respecting Mr. Sampedro's individual decision to end his life, this film is an argument against euthanasia. His life after the crippling accident is, indeed, "A truly joyous experience." The true worth of Sampedro's life would be lost, if he had drowned. That he lived, albeit in a paraplegic state, enriches (even saves) others' lives - consider, for example, the platonic "affair" he has with "Julia" (Belén Rueda). Their love is as deep and meaningful as one that would include acts of sexual gratification; emotionally, they violate her marriage.
Sampedro enriches the lives of strangers, like "Rosa" (Lola Dueñas), with life-affirming friendship. And, he is a life-altering member of his family, especially to "Javi" (Tamar Novas), who so memorably runs after the van taking his uncle to, finally, rest in peace. It's difficult to imagine how these characters' lives would be better, had Sampedro died in the water (as he wished); and, his decision to leave them is saddening (if not selfish). Director Alejandro Amenábar and his crew make "The Sea Inside" a beautiful experience.; Mr. Bardem and the cast are marvelous.
******** Mar adentro (9/3/04) Alejandro Amenabar ~ Javier Bardem, Belen Rueda, Lola Duenas, Tamar Novas
The winner of the 2004 Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film could have
easily been a strong nominee for Best Picture, Best Director, Best
Actor, and Best Screenplay had it been in English, such was the quality
of the work.
Alejandro Amenabar's directorial prowess works at full capacity to produce a Motion Picture about a subject as taboo as human euthanasia, with enough wit and intelligence to captivate audiences of any type. There is no hint of melodrama or pretentiousness (qualities that are common in films of this nature) and audiences will not feel insulted.
Amenabar produces valid arguments for and against self-assisted suicide, but never draws any distinct conclusion, instead opting to let the viewer follow his/her heart.
The cast, led by a superb Javier Bardem (who outshines most male lead performances for that year with an emotionally riveting and realistic portrayal) is quite good, comprised mainly of actors/actresses previously unknown to American audiences.
MAR ADENTRO contains great direction, excellent acting, intelligent writing, and breathtaking cinematography showcasing the beauty of the Spanish countryside. 8/10. 3.5 stars (out of 4). Should enter my Top 200 at 188. Highly recommended.
I was a little apprehensive about spending my time watching a movie
about euthanasia and the debate surrounding it. I finally watched it,
and I am glad I did.
For a movie about euthanasia, this movie is so full of life that you begin to wonder why the central character is so bent on taking his own. Despite Ramon's claims, it does seem that he is doing it to make his point about freedom and dignity of life, than because of his own state of unhappiness.
The movie has a great script, strong acting and spectacular photography. Music is great too. I will recommend it to anyone who would like to watch thoughtful cinema.
Some characters could have been handled better - I would have loved to get more insight into the characters of Julia and Rosa.
Overall a great movie which never gets sombre, even as it deals with infirmities and matters of suicide.
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