The Sea Inside

June 21, 2009
By CynthiaK SILVER, Berkeley, California
CynthiaK SILVER, Berkeley, California
6 articles 0 photos 0 comments

For anyone interested in discovering the true meaning of life (and no, it isn't “42”), The Sea Inside is the perfect movie. Based on a true story, this Spanish film addresses the timeless question of what life truly means via an enlightening script and a talented cast.

Directed by Alejandro Amenabar, The Sea Inside tells of a quadriplegic's quest to obtain the legal rights for assisted suicide. Tired of relying on others around him for even the simplest of tasks, Ramón Sampedro (Javier Bardem) desperately wants to die “with dignity.” Though his request understandably horrifies his family, they support him because, as Ramón insightfully remarks, “those who love me will help me to die.”

The movie opens with a breezy image of the sea, its calm waves gently crashing in rhythm to the background of Ramón's breathing. To Ramón, the sea represents freedom but ironically, the sea is also what hindered it. As a teenager, he takes a job on a fishing boat, living blissfully amid the peaceful waters, until a tragic fall from a cliff breaks his neck and causes complete body paralysis. His adventurous life prior to the accident harshly contrasts the immobile state he finds himself in. He can no longer be the man he wants to be, so he chooses death.

As it deals with the fragile subject of suicide as well as the ambiguous meaning of life, the plot has the potential to fall victim to worn out themes. The distinctive script and noteworthy acting, however, steer the movie away from those dangerous waters. The complex inter-character relationships are imbued with realism, thanks to powerful performances and poignant dialogue. Ramón is surrounded by love—both romantic and familial—and we can see the strength of that love through the raw emotions the characters display.

Javier Bardem shines in his role as the focal character, managing to spout valuable epiphanies regarding life while adding in the snarky but humorous quips that endear his character to viewers. His portrayal of Ramón effectively captures his anguish, which is still clearly detectable despite his nonchalant front.

So take a break from your endless pile of schoolwork and do something worthwhile: Watch The Sea Inside. With its witty yet illuminating analysis of the controversy of suicide, it will prove more useful than all of your Barrons books combined.

Rating: A

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