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Ramon sampedros life and acting in the film the sea inside

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When does someone, suffering and without hope, have the right to end it? Alejandro Amenabar's "The Sea Inside" is a poignant drama, based on the real-life story of Spanish writer and quadriplegic Ramon Sampedro, that unflinchingly asks and answers those questions--not in a way that everyone may like, but with great compassion and empathy. It's a fine film, done without bathos or sentimentality and though it has a difficult subject--the kind of story often mocked as "disease of the month"--"Sea" wrings honest emotion and riveting dramatics from its tale.

`The Sea Inside

Playing Ramon, actor Javier Bardem accomplishes something extraordinary. Eschewing easy sympathy, he creates a real person, real pain. Trapped throughout except for flashbacks on a bed, barely moving, his voice shot through with weariness and resignation, Bardem is still able to convey Ramon's magnetism, bitter wit and philosophical melancholy.

He takes us inside the man's devastating condition and shows us why the people around him especially the women react to him with such intensity.

The Sea Inside

And he lets us fully understand why Ramon makes the choices he finally does. As moving as Bardem's unforgettable portrait of Cuban writer Reinaldo Arenas in 2000's "Before Night Falls," this portrait of a soul entombed in a broken body is one of the performances of the year. The real-life Sampedro, an ex-sailor and ship's mechanic who suffered his paralyzing accident while diving at age 26, spent the last three decades of his life trying to petition legally for euthanasia.

Sea Inside

In the interim, he became a famous national figure through his writings and poetry. The film picks up Ramon's story in the final period of his life, concentrating on his relationships with the family who cares for him on their Galician farm: Even more, the film focuses on two women involved in his struggle: Here is where "Sea" sometimes seems to veer off into romance and exaggeration. Julia aids his petition for the right to die and Rosa, at first, tries to show him meaning in life.

Both women are obviously in love with Ramon, and he with Julia.

  • Editing his book and giving him deep sympathy significantly because of her own serious illness, she quickly experiences a deep understanding with the determined man;
  • The film picks up Ramon's story in the final period of his life, concentrating on his relationships with the family who cares for him on their Galician farm;
  • The Sea Inside provides some interesting reflections on the nature of love and intimacy as, despite his quadriplegia, we watch the relationships with two of the women deepen and intensify;
  • Disabled people "suffer"; are "incapacitated" and "bedridden;
  • The Sea Inside is not structured as problem film with pro and con about euthanasia.

The first time I watched "Sea Inside," the whole situation struck me as over-romanticized. Why concentrate on these impossible love affairs?

  • Witness the radical transformation he had undergone for playing a mobster in Collateral;
  • I would like to talk to Sampedro and convince him that the life is worth living for the quadriplegics;
  • The film portrays them as well intentioned but naive;
  • The relationship is not one-sided.

There's no denying, though, that the film is, at moments, a great heart-breaker. And Bardem's performance, with its gravity and quiet force, helps make the relationships plausible. A rare star who is both a genuine matinee idol and a brilliant actor, Bardem here plays against his considerable physical charisma to withering effect. Amenabar, the 32-year-old filmmaker who instigated, directed and co-wrote "Sea Inside"--and also edited it and composed the musical score--has been a specialist up to now in fantasy, science fiction and horror.

Sombras de Luna

The title "The Sea Inside" refers to the ocean of Ramon's memory and fantasies, the only sea the one-time sailor now knows.

As Ramon, Bardem dominates the movie. But the other actors, especially Rueda as eloquent Julia and Duenas as the simpler Rosa, beautifully complement him.

  1. As disability rights advocates, we can write letters to the editor or opinion articles, using examples drawn from rational analysis, historical experience, and current practices like The Netherlands' to lead audiences to recognize what's missing from The Sea Inside. A contradiction between activism and patriarchalism is also shown in a clear way.
  2. As long as I live, no one dies through a suicide in my house.
  3. But the other actors, especially Rueda as eloquent Julia and Duenas as the simpler Rosa, beautifully complement him. A quadriplegic priest in a televised debate asserts what movie viewers already know to be false.
  4. Ramon's confined world is literally and symbolically opened up with the arrival of the two women, Julia and Rosa, and their encounters forever change the trio's lives. Living in a rural farm, he is lovingly and tenderly taken care of by his family.
  5. In one scene, we see Julia having a stroke as she descends the stairs from a visit to her client.

The crisp, impeccable photography and evocative dream effects only heighten the anguish at the story's heart, and Amenabar maintains a tight narrative grip to the end. At that moment, as we glide over an ocean of dreams, the film, if only briefly, touches something sublime.

In Spanish and Galician, with English subtitles.

  1. And he lets us fully understand why Ramon makes the choices he finally does.
  2. Critics wrote that Ramon had an incurable disease, that he was paraplegic. For her part, Julia knows that, despite the obstacles, Ramon is the great love of her life.
  3. It's an unusually mature film for Amenabar, who's only 32 year-old.

A Fine Line Features release; opens Friday.