Starring: Javier Bardem, Lola Dueñas, Belén Rueda
Director: Alejandro Amenábar
Running Time: 125 mins
The Sea Inside (Mar adentro) is a Spanish film about the true story of Ramón Sampedro, a man who became a quadriplegic after a freak diving accident, and who wants to be granted the right to die with dignity.
This is a film that tells an amazing true story, one full of both moral grey areas and inspiring determination. Helped by an elegant score and a strong central performance, this is at least an interesting depiction of one man’s fight for the right to die, but it just comes up short when it really needs to hit you hardest.
On the plus side, it is amazing to watch this story unfold, knowing that it all actually happened. Although very understated, Sampedro’s story is exceptional, and is often very touching. The way that his character is written here is fantastic, and the fact that he has such strong and positive relationships with all those around him makes him a man that you just can’t help but support, no matter what your opinion on the subject of his right to die is.
Javier Bardem also does an excellent job at bringing that character across as well as he can. Although it’s not a particularly showy performance, he makes Sampedro a man that you can easily sympathise with, showing both his deep desire to die with dignity, and the fact that he hasn’t turned cynical in his immobile state, but still appreciates everything that is done for him, adding to his likeability hugely.
One of the other most impressive parts of this film was the score. It has a soft and elegant theme that plays throughout, but there are moments, when the drama reaches its highest level, that the score can become very powerful and operatic, and, for me, it was the most impacting part of the whole film.
That’s where I take issue with The Sea Inside. It’s without doubt an extraordinary true story, but I couldn’t help but feel that it just didn’t have the emotional power that it was going for. It may be cynical of me to say, but the tone of the film was just a little too positive to be really hard-hitting, and although I understand that’s necessary to tell a certain side of Sampedro’s character, I just felt that it took away from the more dramatic parts of the story.
Overall, The Sea Inside is a film with a fascinating true story, and is elegant in its use of music and Javier Bardem’s performance, but because it didn’t have the emotional impact on me that I felt necessary, I’m going to give it a 7.3.