The Sea Inside

Cast: Lola Duenas, Javier Bardem, Belon Rueda
Director: Alejandro Amenabar
Certificate: Sp 2005, Cert PG, rt 126 mins,

Its been Oscar-nominated as the Spanish entry for the Foreign Film Oscar, its been garlanded with a vast array of Spanish Goyas (the equivalent of the Bafta awards) and its reportedly provoked the annoyance of Pedro Almodovar who felt his latest offering Bad Education was the better film.

Amenabar was at the helm of a memorable predecessor called The Others starring Nicole Kidman. In The Sea Inside, you find yourself back in the territory of Whose life is it anyway? with a debate about whether euthanasia and assisted suicides should be practiced in cases where people are medically unable to overcome particularly restrictive personal defects.

Based on a true story, the excellent Bardem plays Ramon Sampedro, a largely bed-ridden quadriplegic who is pretty much paralysed from the neck down. Ramon is naturally frustrated, his quality of life is unlikely to improve, so he wants to win through the courts if necessary, the right to die with dignity. When he meets a young lady, a lawyer Julia (Rueda) who herself is partly-disabled, a love for each other springs up as each enjoys the otherís company. Julia helps him write his memoirs and Ramon thinks Julia will help him in his bid to beat the judges and earn the right to die in a way he chooses.

Another woman befriends Ramon too and she falls deeply in love with him. As the hours and days roll by, Ramonís bid to end his life becomes the subject of a bitter dispute within his family and all the time Ramon becomes more determined to want to end his life.

The Sea Inside is well thought-out but also slightly laboured. It suggests Ramon is right to seek an exit to life whilst his lady love is wrong to want to carry on. Whose life is it anyway says the same things in a slightly more succinct manner in comparison whilst the other recent movie on the subject, The Barbarian Invasions, faced up to the same euthanasia debate and found some wonderful banter between family and friends. The Sea Inside isnít a bad film but some who are disabled may feel it suggests too easily that in the worst circumstances there is only one solution when in fact there is more than one.

Matt Arnoldi

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