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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.
This may very well be the best of Amenábar's work to date. I've seen all he's completed thus far, as of and including Tesis. I've yet to truly dislike or find myself unable to see genuine value in what I've watched that he's helmed. They are all movies of questions, not answers, as he, himself, puts it. And they all deal with life and death, often among other philosophical subjects. This perhaps in a different way than the others. At its center is the following for us all to ponder: Is living a right, or an obligation? No lectures, no dictating, nothing is claimed as fact, but rather stated, and it is up to the individual to decide where they stand. The deliberate, eased pacing, with some use of sudden, startling shifts in intensity that he has employed before is evident here, and it's a perfect fit. This is very well-directed and effective. It can be strong, but never tasteless. In his make-up, Bardem is almost unrecognizable, going by what I've gotten of a look at him outside of it, which, admittedly, is not much. The editing and cinematography are masterful. Not a single moment is off. The acting, as well as I can judge it, not yet speaking the language, is spot-on, throughout. Javier, especially, seems to lose himself entirely in the role, and comes off as believable. The characters are well-written and credible. There is a little humor, and it is good(do note that among it is relatively dark jokes). As with the previous releases by the man I mentioned at the beginning of this review, this is not a mainstream, easy-to-take-in flick. If you are seeking entertainment(I'm not passing judgment, I don't only go for this kind of piece), you will probably do better to go elsewhere. The DVD holds three deleted scenes that are well worth the time(and they're also subbed, so that helps), and a behind-the-scenes featurette that I will write about on its specific page here on the site. I recommend this warmly and eagerly to any fan of true film, of drama and of the people involved in making this, Alejandro in particular. 10/10
Emotionally-charged masterpiece from Spain deals with the true story of Ramon Sampedro (brilliantly portrayed by all-world talent Javier Bardem), a quadriplegic who fought for 30 years in favor of euthanasia and the right to choose death over life. Belen Rueda is unforgettable as his attorney with her own severe health issues and Lola Duenas shines thoroughly as a working-class single mother who finds the joy of life and love through Bardem's complicated character. Co-writer/director Alejandro Amenabar's film is full of difficult questions and dilemmas aplenty. Every angle and seemingly every viewpoint is examined to various extents in this amazing production. An overwhelmingly excellent cinematic accomplishment in every way. 5 stars out of 5.
Javier Bardem is Ramon Sampedro, a quadriplegic who after 28 years of
"hell," is desperately seeking the aid of friends, strangers and the
court to help end his life. A group called Dying with Dignity enters
and begins the tasking job of starting a petition for Ramon, which once
passed, would inevitably give Ramon an assisted death. But all is not
so simple, and his journey towards ultimate liberation seems to be far
out of reach. His voice and story reach far and wide, and through
mutual pain and loss, Ramon befriends a trio of women who all in their
own ways, love him unconditionally. Who loves him deepest is left to be
"The Sea Inside" is an important and well made film about one's desire for death amidst so much love. Some don't understand his feelings, while others do; and then there are those who only wish for Ramon to be happy and burden free. Though the film's central notions are secularized around Ramon's viewpoint of "dying with dignity," Alejandro Amenabar does a great job of instilling the viewer with each of these thoughts and then letting you decide for yourself.
The actors all did a great job, especially Bardem and Lola Duenas as Rosa. There were very vivid daydream sequences that I must admit felt and looked the same way it does when you fly in a dream.
The film isn't perfect however, and there were a couple lines(strong ones at that) that should have been placed separately in the film; a scene with a chasing boy didn't work as well as it should have, mainly because it was bound to happen.
All in all, "The Sea Inside" was an honest and daring depiction of a man's quest for death.
"The Sea Inside" is a refreshingly subtle polemic, if there can be such
a thing. It has a clear agenda -- arguing in favor of humans' right to
die with dignity -- and it makes only the most minor attempt to address
all sides of the right to die controversy, but it never preaches or
gets bogged down in treacly sentimentality. It's as clear headed and
articulate as its protagonist, Ramon Sampedro, a quadriplegic who
fought, and ultimately lost, to have his right to end his own life
recognized by the Spanish government.
Javier Bardem plays Sampedro in a simply beautiful performance, all the more astounding given the fact that for most of the movie Bardem must act from the neck up only. His Ramon is a man full of great reserves of love and compassion for his family members and friends, but he's also single minded in purpose; he wants to die, and he doesn't want anyone, no matter how well meaning, to stand in his way of that objective. Therefore, we almost always support Ramon in his goal, but don't always approve of his methods, or the way he treats others around him, particularly the young woman who ultimately assists him in his suicide, who's on the rebound from a failed marriage and attaches herself rather desperately to Ramon, and whom the movie suggests Ramon would take emotional advantage of if it would help him achieve his goal. But the movie's point is that Ramon is being forced to play by rules created by a bunch of people who know nothing about what it's like to be in his situation, so he can be forgiven if he breaks those rules.
There's much to enjoy in "The Sea Inside" even if you are strongly opposed to assisted suicide. It really is a poignant, beautiful movie, and it resonates with compassion. I remember the small controversy that surrounded this movie and "Million Dollar Baby," another film about assisted suicide that came out in the same year, and audiences' calls to boycott these films because they espoused a point of view the audiences were against. I can understand why someone would not agree with the argument in "The Sea Inside," but I can't imagine how they could have a blanket objection to watching the film, when it's so full of warmth and examples of decent human kindness.
I have seen "Whose life is it anyway?" (1981) and now "Mar adentro"
(2004). I loved both films while they unspooled their entertaining
sexist jokes in the morbid background of a male quadriplegic requesting
euthanasia. Evaluated for their witty content, the American film wins
outright over the other. Evaluated for philosophical content, the
Spanish film is an outright winner in contrast to the Hollywood
product. The American film entertained for the duration of the film;
the Spanish film entertains you by requiring you to reflect on the
various segments of the film, long after the film ends.
People who know Spanish aver that the correct translation of the title would be "Into the sea". If you have seen the film, the deep philosophical, theological and social undercurrents of the screenplay make the less accurate title "The sea within," more appropriate.
What were the aspects of the film that made me reflect on it? The unflinching support of a small family to care for a cripple for 27 years is unusual in Western society. This is powerfully understated throughout the film. The viewer is witness to mute actions of love from the family for the quadriplegic but only on a few occasions is the subject discussed.
This brings up the strengths of the awesome screenplay (Amenabar and Mateo Gil) that reverts time and time again to the hills visible from the quadriplegic's bed while the memories of the quadriplegic are those of the sea. The sea is within the mind of the quadriplegicand quite appropriately the first shot is of the sea, which is soon replaced by the hills.
Suicide is theologically a no-no for many. A repentant Judas is not forgiven by the Church because he commits suicide, while all other repenting sinners the world over are supposed to be absolved if they repent. The film, set in Catholic Spain, takes a bold step in including the loud debate between two quadriplegicsone a priest who wants to live and another, a lay man, who does notseparated literally and figuratively by a floor.
The power of media is underlined: the role of TV programs and publishing of books. Yet the real outcome is nurtured through love between individuals through direct contact. The end of the film would not be the same in the absence of love. The bonding between the sick and the crippled (physically with Julia and psychologically with Rosa) are contrasted with bonding of the physically whole near familyManuela and Gene.
This is my second Amenabar filmthe first was "The others." While "Mar adentro" deals with a thought provoking subject, the brilliance of the young director is underlined in "The others"--a fabulous ghost story, elegantly told. Amenabar and Andrei Zvygintsev ("The Return") are the most promising and talented young filmmakers (both Europeans) today. Amenabar has proved that he can direct great movies, elicit great performances from his actors (Javier Bardem, here. and Nicole Kidman in "The Others"), write good music and pick fine appropriate music of established composers (Puccini, Beethoven, Mozart and Richard Wagner). Like good cognac, the film is best appreciated by reflecting on all its attributes after the repast of viewing the movie.
There is very little I can say that hasn't already been said before,
but I would like to share my view that this film is magnificent in
The story revolves around the life of the fully paralyzed Ramón Sampedro, played beautifully by Javier Bardem, who wants nothing more than to end his life with dignity. As one other reviewer puts it, the major moral dilemma of the film is balanced on both sides by the fullness of life and the affection shown towards Ramon on the one hand, and his own desire to end life on the other. He considers life to be a living hell, and he is unable to see through the gloom to the beauty around him. There is no spoken intellectual argument for why he shouldn't kill himself - that side of the argument is presented by the tender and warm relationships that spring up around him giving him reasons to live. It seems as though everyone in the film wants him to live except for Ramon himself.
The acting, the cinematography, the musical score, the writing - everything is superb. I was especially impressed by the performance of Belén Rueda, who is also one of the screen's great beauties (even at the age of 41).
I highly recommend this film and I wish to pay my compliments to the cast and crew for an outstanding production.
Anyway, I was talking about a friend the other day who is struggling
with depression, among other things, and the question of suicide came
up. It just so happened that I caught the 2005 Oscar winning film, Mar
adentro yesterday also. Something came up halfway through and I
restarted it from the beginning because I didn't want to interrupt the
flow. It was magnificent, and if you have not seen it, you must.
Those who visit frequently know I work with the developmentally disabled. I know that the disabled activists were not happy with this film, or with Million Dollar Baby. It is interesting when you think about it. We are constantly reminded to promote choice with out clients, but when that choice goes against what the activists want, they get upset. Sometimes, you just don't want to fight the fight anymore.
The Oscar winning film, directed by Alejandro Amenábar, stars Javier Bardem, who some may remember as Felix in Collateral. I remember him as the Cuban poet and novelist, Reinaldo Arenas in Before Night Falls, a superb film for which he was nominated for a Best Actor Oscar that he lost to Russell Crowe in Gladiator.
The fact-based story concerned a quadriplegic who spent 28 years trying to die. The interaction with his friends and family will cause you to question the wisdom of his decision. Which ever side you come down on is OK, as he points out, for him, "A life without freedom is not a life." I am sure that is what upsets the activists, but it is clear that it is his choice.
There is nothing I like better than a movie that makes you think, and this certainly accomplishes that task.
Last year and at the dawn of 2006, Alejandro Amenabar's fourth film
garnered prestigious prizes all over the world. It collected at least
50 rewards! I can only agree with these rewards. It is perhaps proof
positive that the versatile Amenabar is more than ever a filmmaker to
follow very closely.
An inkling one had already suspected at the screening of "Tesis" (1996) in which he had ventured in the formidable world of the "snuff-movies" (beware French users! "Formidable" doesn't mean "terrific" at all but "dreadful") is that Amenabar doesn't fear to tackle to difficult topics according to different reasons a little like John Frankenheimer in his sixties heyday. Besides, the meandering "Abre Los Ojos" (1997) had a strong resemblance with Frankenheimer's "Seconds" (1966). Both gave startling results. "The Others" (2001) harked back to the Gothic fantastic of the sixties ("the Innocents" 1961, "the Haunting" 1963) and earned Amenabar worldwide recognition. Abetted by an astounding Nicole Kidman, he made us shiver with a minimum of means but a maximum of brilliance.
Once again, Amenabar embarked in uncharted waters for him with a delicate topic: melodrama and the right to euthanasia. When one knows that in Spain, the official position of Spanish government about this is adamant, it underlines and reinforces Amenabar's ambitious side. An important part of Spanish population seems to be undetermined facing this problem. In the film, when Ramon strives to heighten public awareness through the publication of his book which sums up his motto: "life is a right, not an obligation", it's a courageous move from him.
"Mar Adentro" distinguishes itself from Amenabar's three previous works by its change of register. It's a more intimate and placating one but it eventually walks a fine line with these works because it revolves like them around death. It seems that Amenabar found his set of themes. What he had already done in "Abre Los Ojos", he does it again here: he doesn't do what the audience might expect in the treatment of his topic. Where a Hollywood director would have followed a well-defined way while favoring the inevitable case, Amenabar is more astute at this game: he grants it only a minimal importance in his scenario because he knows that Ramon's fight to attain death is already lost at the beginning of the film. Amenabar also appears to take a mischievous delight in referring to codes and conventions of the subject to better divert them through maverick schemes like for example when it comes to feed Ramon the corny chorus that life is worth living. One of the most memorable moments of the film is the conversation between the priest in the kitchen and Ramon in his bedroom with the assistant of the priest as the intermediary point. It is sheer genius and may underline Amenabar's anticlerical spirit which one had already guessed in "the Others".
But Amenabar also quietly refuses a good pack of constricting conventions. There's nothing maudlin or morbid in his treatment of Ramon's last years of life and he also excluded useless pathos from his work. He spends the major time of the film, in Ramon's isolated house, a little like in "the Others", surrounded by a green, green country with the sea in the end. A perfect backdrop for his intentions. Obviously, Amenabar was much more interested by what went on in the head of his main protagonist and his relationships with his close relatives.
"Mar Adentro" is a hymn to life and love. One of Ramon's first inner thoughts, the aerial shot which flies over Spanish country to land on the beach and find Ramon and Julia kissing is a perfect example of it. Amenabar refuses to feel sorry for Ramon's fate and transcends his bedroom as a lively place. Besides, Ramon lived a nearly full life before his accident. He was a sailor and went all around the world. The intensity of his looks, the power of his imagination and his lines with sometimes a deadpan humor are enough to fill the room with an uplifting and lively aura and the film with a lyrical whiff. An amazing contrast for a lucid man who seems to have lost his taste for life. Although he has been standing still in his room for many, many years and despite his wish to die, Ramon is still able to talk about life and to love. I'd like to raise the fact that each of his apparitions is filmed without flashy effects. Julia and Rosa are both enamored with him and will finally understand Ramon's desire through a deep love to him.
Still on the plus side, Amenabar's piece of work doesn't cease to surprise the audience through its constant humor which suffuses the whole movie. It could almost be worth the price of admission. And as usual, Amenabar's input in his work is total. He signed the evocative score and used a splendid cinematography. And who else but Mateo Gil could help him to pen the immaculate scenario? Such a seminal piece of work wouldn't be complete without the bunch of actors Amenabar hired. He excels in the directing of actors. Each character's persona fits each of them like a glove. Belén Rueda as a lawyer is far from the Hollywood cardboard character. Lola Duenas is a Rosa full of freshness and vivacity. But render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's and to praise Javier Bradem's extraordinary acting.
Amenabar's own standpoint on euthanasia eventually remains sitting on the fence and prefers to let the viewer think about this problem. This is the fourth magnum opus in a short but immaculate filmography. So far, the block for "the young prodigy of Spanish cinema" (a flattering but deserved moniker) is an unknown notion to him. If everything is alright for Amenabar and if he manages to keep his self-confidence, imagine the look his career could have in several years. Yes, more power to him!
This sort of movie isn't my thing at all. Normally these dramas are
draped in fake sentiment and it leaves me feeling very queasy to say
the least. However, I found myself with high hopes for this one because
it's directed by one of today's best new directors; Alejandro Amenábar,
and after seeing his debut; Tesis, along with the follow-up's Open Your
Eyes and The Others, it's obvious that this man knows his stuff. For a
movie that deals with the subject of euthanasia, you've got to expect a
degree of sentiment; and this movie certainly has more just a degree of
it, but the sentiment is never overdone and Amenábar never looks like
he's manipulating the audience into the plight of the protagonist. This
is the difference between this film; one told by a talented auteur, and
the rush of sentiment dramas helmed by auteur's who are less than
talented. Amenábar simply presents the plight, gives you a wealth of
viewpoints, and it is then up to you to make your mind up about what
you think. When it comes to the genuinely touching moments, therefore,
we care because we WANT to care, and not because the movie is being
forced down our throats.
The story is that of Ramón Sampedro, a real-life Spanish man who fought a 30-year campaign for the right to end his life. As you would expect from a story of this nature, the film raises many questions about the value of life and whether it is worth living a life without dignity. The film plays out with a real life-affirming vigour, and there are several instances in the film that really will make you think. If a film can make you look at your own life and get you thinking about important issues, it's obvious that it's doing something right. The film is very bleak in it's approach, but this is offset by the uplifting way that we are able to see the character. Even though his biggest wish is to end his life; we get behind him, and wanting our hero to die is a strange situation for an audience to be in. Javier Bardem gives a great performance as the unfortunate victim, and he heads a very believable cast of actors that give it their all and help to make the film the success that it is. Despite the greatness of this movie, I really would like to see Amenábar return to horror-thrillers for his next flick; but at least he's proved that he can do other types of films too.
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