The Sea Inside (Mar Adentro) (The Sea Within) Reviews
Paralysed from the neck down for over 25 years, Ramon is trapped in a tragic prison - his own body. If he were able to move his arm, he could shoot himself and deliver himself from irrelievable, profound and intolerable existential suffering. As Ramon himself eloquently stated, "In my dreams, the one commonality is that I can walk."
But because of ass-backwards laws in Spain, all he can do is starve himself or find people to help him, illegally. An ignorant but well-intentioned woman visits Ramon near the film's outset. She is baffled at how a man who smiles so readily could want to die. He explains that his smiles are simply a curtain over his grief, pain and tears. He soon asks the arrogant and presumptuous woman to leave. This is nothing compared to the arrogance of a quadriplegic priest, who not only has his faith to sustain him, but billions in church resources to draw upon if he should ever need to. His non-sequitor argument, that "freedom without life isn't freedom", ignores millennia of bloodshed and sacrifice in the name of freedom and liberty for all. I found his behaviour repugnant, especially when he countered Ramon's appeal to public support by Godwinning himself and equating that support to that provided to the Nazis by the German people.
While the majority of this powerful true story concerns Ramon's fight to legalise and obtain assistance to die, other characters are crucial and unforgettable, including his family and a woman who intends to end her life before her incurable, lifelong illness becomes unbearable to her. They round out the film and create a profound and realistic three-dimensional experience.
Legislative change will come, and it will come soon, as baby boomers age. A placard raised at a protest in Ramon's honour read "Life is a right, not an obligation." Nothing could be more true. A life that is compulsory, not to mention miserable, is torture. And paternalistic torture at the hands of the state is one of the most profoundly abhorrent kinds of torture possible.
Javier Bardem's performance has to be the Charlize Theron performance of the year. Ok, I said the same for Jamie Foxx in RAY but Javier can top that transformation.
First we see he is almost bald of old age and I was shocked to see him age so much within just a few years. Then we see Javier with a mane of dark hair in a flashback. Wait so he is not bald really. Then it must be very very top-notch makeup! And that paralysed body? It looks so real so it cannot be the work of makeup or SFX. Well even if all these are prostheses, we cannot and must not deny Javier is an exceptional good actor. Mind you, he played the gay Cuban poet and novelist Reinaldo Arenas in BEFORE NIGHT FALLS and earn an Oscar nom. A feat for a foreign actor and why did that Roberto win for LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL? Javier deserves his second nomination next year.
The movie is directed by Alejandro Amenabar whose previous movies are THE OTHERS and OPEN YOUR EYES. Here, his latest outing has none of the spookiness and head-turning twists. It has a very sensitively written script about euthanasia. It explored very deep into a man named Ramon who fights for his right to end his life after being paralysed, and bedridden for 28 years, resulted from a freak accident. His family members all want him to live despite the huge burden he has imposed on them. There are also three other women - a lawyer, a single mother and a nurse - whose lives he has affected greatly. The movie is about all of them, how they cope with a man who wants to die so bad that he begs anyone in sight to kill him, how they feel pity for a man with so much humour, wit and intelligence and above all how to make him feel happy for himself.
I am afraid I may not appreciate the movie fully because it is profound to me and I think there is more to it which I cannot comprehend. I feel inadequate to judge this movie. Somehow I think I need to experience more in life to understand the complex emotions of Ramon. And to think that Alejandro Amenabar is just one year older than me.
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.
Ramon Sampedro (Bardem), was a young man when he had his terrible accident. It left almost his entire body paralyzed, and he remained bedridden for twenty-eight years. He sought to end his own life, but for years and years the law would not allow it. Eventually, a lawyer named Julia (Rueda), is assigned his case, to which she accepts for free. The two quickly form a deep friendship, and they begin to develop feelings for each other. Ramon realizes that most people disapprove of his wishes. Even some of his own family members and close friends do not understand him. In particular, Rosa (Dueas). She and Ramon grow to be close friends, and she begins to fall in love with him, and seeks to help him believe what she does; that life is worth living.
This film features several familiar Spanish actors and actresses, and all of them do a fantastic job in their roles. Javier Bardem is one of the best actors in the business, despite the fact that he has only been in a couple of American films (No Country For Old Men, Skyfall). He's been in multiple foreign films, and this one features what may very well be his best performance next to Anton Chigurh. He was completely trans-formative in this movie. I couldn't believe it was him at first. He is a very talented actor with a large range. He was so convincing and so impressive in this film. The rest of the cast, while no where near as impressive, should not be overlooked. Everyone did a solid job in their roles, even though Bardem steals the show in every scene he is in.
The score by Alejandro Amenˇbar is beautiful, and the cinematography by Javier Aguirresarobe is well handled. The only flaw I could think of is that the film is just a little too long. It's clocks in at about two hours and five minutes. There are times, fleeting times, where it drags on. Aside from that, this is a very beautifully moving film that I thought was really impressive. Many people won't like it due to it's controversial nature. However, I recommend that if you watch it, watch it with an open mind. You don't necessarily have to agree with the message of a film to enjoy it. If you want to have a discussion in the comments about this topic, feel free to do so. The film is on Netflix, so you can watch it there, then come back to talk about it if you wish.
"The Sea Inside'' is an extremely impressive foreign film with a powerful performance from Javier Bardem. It's a film not many will agree with, but it is still a wonderful movie. The acting is great, the story is powerful, it's well written, it has great direction, and it's very thought provoking.