Two of the most talented figures in contemporary Spanish cinema -- actor Javier Bardem and director Alejandro Amenábar -- collaborate for this powerful drama, based on a true story. Ramón Sampedro (Javier Bardem) was a fisherman and… More Two of the most talented figures in contemporary Spanish cinema -- actor Javier Bardem and director Alejandro Amenábar -- collaborate for this powerful drama, based on a true story. Ramón Sampedro (Javier Bardem) was a fisherman and part-time poet who, at the age of 26, suffered an accident while diving that left him a bedridden quadriplegic. Now 54, Ramón must depend on his family to survive -- his macho brother José (Celso Bugallo), José's wife, Manuela (Mabel Rivera), and their son, Javi (Tamar Novas). While grateful to his family and friends for their help, Ramón was always an active person, and as the years wore on, he has come to see his life as frustrating and pointless and wishes to die with what remains of his dignity. José, however, is bitterly opposed to the notion of assisted suicide, and Spanish laws would implicate anyone who helped Ramón end his own life, which is something Ramón does not want to do. Through Gené (Carla Segura), a friend who works with a "Right to Die" organization, Ramón is introduced to Julia (Belen Rueda), a lawyer he hopes will help him persuade the courts to let him end his own life. Julia is dealing with her own mortality issues since being diagnosed with a degenerative disease, and Ramón hopes her condition will make her arguments more persuasive. As Ramón and Julia work together on his case and help to prepare a book of his poems for publication, Ramón finds himself falling in love with his attorney, who happens to be married, but while his infatuation gives Julia second thoughts about the case, Ramón remains convinced that the greatest gift to him would be an end to his life. Javier Bardem's performance in The Sea Inside (aka Mar Adentro) earned him the Best Actor award at the 2004 Venice Film Festival.
Consensus: Held aloft by a transfixing performance from Javier Bardem as a terminally ill man who chooses to die, The Sea Inside transcends its melodramatic story with tenderness and grace.