The Sea Inside (2004, Spain) ****

The Sea InsideBased on the real-life story of Ramón Sampedro, The Sea Inside, addressing the controversial issue of Euthanasia, is borderline sentimental, yet effective in its delivery. The film is directed with a steady hand by Spanish director Alejandro Amenábar (of the memorable 1997 Abre los ojos aka Open Your Eyes), and acted to perfection by an excellent cast, led by an impeccable Javier Bardem. It tells the story of Ramón, who has been quadriplegic for 29 years, and wishes to end his life with dignity. Since the filmmakers take a clear stand as to where they stand with the issue at hand, rather than making the question of whether a man of sound mind has the right to receive assistance for ending his life, the film focuses on the people around Ramón, and the way his resolve affects them. Topics hinted include fear of death, religious doubt, and self-confidence. It is a smart angle, and one that could have been explored even more, on account of some parts of the film that tend to linger on in favor of visual self-indulgence. With that said, it should also be noted that the visuals are striking and well-supportive of the story, giving wings to a person who is left only with memories and imagination. It brings to mind another powerful film, also based on a real-life story of a man confined to his body - The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (highly recommended if you have not seen it yet). All in all The Sea Inside delivers an experience rather than just tell a story, and that is its true power.