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The Sea Inside (Mar adentro) (2004)

  Directed by: Alejandro Amenábar
Written by: Alejandro Amenábar, Mateo Gil
Starring: Javier Bardem, Lola Dueñas, Belén Rueda
Links: The Sea Inside on the IMDb, Official site, Buy on DVD, Buy the Book
Genre: Based on True Story

This movie gets: 9.00 (1 rating)
nofreelist.com Ranking: not yet ranked (awaiting 2 ratings)

"Which side of the fence are you on?" - a review by pearly

After being nominated for an Oscar, the release date of The Sea Inside was repeatedly put back in Australia, meaning that, by the time it came out here, it was even too late for the hype that could have surrounded its eventual win for Best Foreign Language Film. Regardless, I'd had myself a free double pass sitting in my bag for the better part of three months, and damned if I wasn't going to use it.

The Sea Inside is based on the true story of the life of Ramón Sampedro, a Spanish man who, in his mid-twenties, dived off a rock just as the tide went out, and broke his neck, leaving him a quadraplegic for the remainder of his life. Having spent the next twenty or so years of his life in bed, Sampedro decided that he wanted to end his life. This was something that he could not, of course, manage on his own, and his wish to die became big news in Spain, as he was the first to publicly announce his desire to be euthanased. The story becomes more complex as Sampedro's family is not exactly in agreeance with him on the issues at hand.

In the film, Sampedro is played by Javier Bardem. Bardem plays the younger version of the man briefly, but, for the most part, he, with the help of some superb makeup, inhabits the body of the older, bedridden man. He does an absolutely amazing job of this role, skillfully alternating between the everyday life of Sampedro, and his more dark moments. Bardem is most definitely the highlight of this film, his performance upping the overall rating for the film a notch or two.

But the other wonderful thing about the film is that it manages to portray this delicate subject matter so even-handedly. Bardem, speaking as Sampedro, is very convincing in his arguments. Conversely, there is a visit from another quadraplegic which is perhaps the least delicate portion of the film, a little disappointing considering that the roles that the rest of Sampedro's family play in the story are much more effective (and less overbearing) in showing the opposite side to the argument, with the conclusion to the story being all the more powerful for the development of these characters.

The title of the film refers to a line from a book of poetry written by Sampedro whilst he waited for his case to go through the correct legal channels. While the themes of the film are thought-provoking, the excerpts of his poetry provide more depth into the man - a three-dimensional figure who is most definitely portrayed as this. Quite an impressive film.

pearly gives this movie 9 out of 10.
Review created on Thu 12 May 2005

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