The Sea Inside

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Rating: PG-13

Starring:
Javier Bardem as Ramón Sampedro
Belén Rueda as Julia
Lola Dueñas as Rosa
Mabel Rivera as Manuela
Celso Bugallo as José
Clara Segura as Gené
Joan Dalmau as Joaquín
Alberto Jiménez as Germán
Tamar Novas as Javier ‘Javi’ Sampedro
Francesc Garrido as Marc
José María Pou as Padre Francisco
Alberto Amarilla as Hermano Andrés
Andrea Occhipinti as Santiago
Federico Pérez Rey as Conductor (Driver)
Nicolás Fernández Luna as Cristian

Special Features:
Commentary from writer-director Alejandro Amenabar

Deleted scenes

Behind-the-scenes documentary

Storyboards

Photo Galleries

Set Design Galleries

Theatrical Trailer

Other Info:
Widescreen (1.85:1)
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
Spanish Language with English Subtitles
Running Time: 125 Minutes

Synopsis:
The following is from the DVD cover:

“Based on the profoundly moving true story that captured the world’s attention, The Sea Inside centers around Spanish poet Ramón Sampedro (Javier Bardem), who fought a 30-year campaign to win the right to end his life with dignity. The film tells the story of Ramón’s relationships with two women: Julia (Belén Rueda) a lawyer who supports his cause, and Rosa (Lola Dueñas), a local woman who wants to convince him that life is worth living. Through the gift of his love, these women are inspired to accomplish things they never previously dreamed possible. Despite his wish to die, Ramón taught everyone he encountered the meaning, value and preciousness of life. Though he could not move himself, he had an uncanny ability to move others. A truly joyous experience, The Sea Inside celebrates the nature of freedom and love, and the mystery and beauty of life.”

The Sea Inside rated PG-13 for intense depiction of mature thematic material.

The Movie:
It was pretty much a foregone conclusion that I wouldn’t like The Sea Inside. First of all, I go to movies to be entertained, not depressed. The Sea Inside is a very depressing film. Second, I generally don’t like movies that take political stands. The Sea Inside is about legalizing euthanasia. Third, I frequently find myself disliking movies that win Golden Globes or Oscars. The Sea Inside won “Best Foreign Film” from both of those award organizations. Simply put, The Sea Inside is not my kind of movie.

It’s especially hard to enjoy The Sea Inside when you don’t agree with the core message of the film. Ramón Sampedro is shown wanting to end his own life because he is paralyzed, he feels that he is a burden to his family, and he can no longer do the things he once enjoyed. None of his family will help him commit suicide and the government won’t allow him to be euthanized. So the movie promotes the idea that he should be free to end his own life. It’s a little hard to go along with this idea when Sampedro is shown as having a sound mind, no immediate pain from his condition, and loving friends and family all around him. He seems like he’s just feeling sorry for himself in the film when compared to other paralytics who lead functional lives. We see Stephen Hawking mentioned in the film as well as a paralyzed priest out in the community trying to make a difference. Meanwhile Sampedro stays confined to his house waxing poetic about how he really wants to die. I never found the character swaying me to agree that he should be allowed to end his own life.

Personal politics and morality aside, The Sea Inside is a very good film. The acting is excellent. Javier Bardem is great as Ramón Sampedro. Despite being in his 30′s, he convinces you that he’s a 55-year-old paralytic. From the physical aspects of the role to the emotional dialogue, he handles it all well. Belén Rueda is also good as Julia, the lawyer with her own debilitating illness that comes to Ramón’s aid. She’s good for showing someone who dances on both sides of the euthanasia issue. Lola Dueñas is also memorable as Rosa, a local woman who falls for Ramón and his cause.

The film is also beautifully shot. The Spanish countryside is quite beautiful and the sets and locations all are quaint backdrops for the emotional, divisive subject matter. Overall it’s a very well made film.

In the end, your enjoyment of The Sea Inside will probably depend heavily on your stance on assisted suicide and how much you enjoy foreign films. If you disagree strongly with the whole euthanasia issue, you probably won’t enjoy the movie. But if you love the art of film and don’t care about politics, The Sea Inside will probably be a film you find worth checking out.

The Extras:
While it doesn’t look like there are many bonus features on this DVD, what is here is quite substantial. Here are the highlights:

A Trip To The Sea Inside: Behind-the-scenes documentary – This making-of feature is a staggering 1 hour and 20 minutes long. It’s as long as many feature films. It covers everything from the initial writing of the script all the way through editing and scoring. It’s a very up-close and personal look at the making of the film. You see the director and writer working on the dialogue in the script at the computer. You see Javier Bardem learning to carry himself like a quadriplegic. You even see actual footage of the real Ramón Sampedro. Behind the scenes footage and interviews with the cast and crew are spread throughout the documentary. In the end it’s a great look at how The Sea Inside was made.

Commentary from writer-director Alejandro Amenabar – Amenabar delivers his commentary in Spanish, so everything he says appears in subtitles at the bottom of the screen. You quickly learn a lot about his personal views on religion, euthanasia, and every other controversial topic in the film. He describes where some ideas from the script came from and general info about the making of the movie.

Deleted scenes – There are three deleted scenes and two of them deal with a major subplot involving Julia and her husband. You see them separate, then eventually reconcile as Julia decides to go on living and suffer through her disease. It’s quite an emotional piece and I’m surprised it was cut from the film. It gives a lot more insight into those secondary characters. The final deleted scene shows Javi reading Ramón’s dedication of the book to his mother.

The Bottom Line:
The Sea Inside features great acting and beautiful cinematography, but the depressing and controversial subject matter makes it hard to enjoy.

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