38 of 40 people found the following review helpful
Ramón Sampedro wishes to be allowed to die with dignity,
This review is from: The Sea Inside [DVD]  (DVD)Your personal position on euthanasia will probably determine whether or not you consider the life of Ramón Sampedro to be inspirational. But his story as told in "Mar adentro" ("The Sea Inside") certainly provides food for thought. Ramón became a quadriplegic at the age of 26 and when this 2004 film begins he has spent even more years confined to a bed. He could be in a wheelchair, but Ramón refuses. What he wants is for the Spanish courts to grant him the right to die. His reason is that he does not find the life he is living to be one of dignity. Ramón does not judge those who are in a situation similar to his own who want to go on living, but for him life has become unbearable and he wants to have the dignity that he is denied in life by dying.
The great irony is that for the most part you would not know this his life was so unbearable to look at Ramón (Javier Bardem, in a wonderfully understated and captivating performance). He is articulate and smiles often, showing both wit and humor in his conversations with others. Ramón can still write, using a pen that he holds in his mouth. Far from being neglected, his sister-in-law, Manuela (Mabel Rivera), has been taking good care of him, aided by her son, Javi (Tamar Novas). But his brother, José (Celso Bugallo), wants Ramón to stop talking about wanting to die and their father wonders how a son of his could want to give up on life. Still, Ramón thinks mainly of the empty part of the glass of life and is pushing his case in court against a legal system that apparently wants nothing to do with him or his thorny issue.
What is different at this point in his quest are two women who become involved in Ramón's life. Julia (Belen Rueda), is a lawyer who is suffering from a degenerative disease and he has picked her because he thinks she will be more sympathetic to his cause. What he does not anticipate is that they would fall in love with each other. Then there is Rosa (Lola Duenas), a local woman who decides she has to visit him and becomes part of his support group as well, even if articulating her motives is beyond her capability. The addition of this two women changes things for Ramón who insists that the greatest show of love his family and friends can have for him is to allow him to die. Trapped by the refusal of any one friend to do all that he needs, Ramón finds a way to make their piecemeal support enough.
"Mar adentro" does a good job of presenting both sides of the issue. The only party to the dispute that comes out looking bad are the courts, that seem to prefer sidestepping the issue by ruling on technicalities rather than making a direct ruling. Ultimately, what Ramón has going for him is that he is so reasonable. His anger is usually reserved for Javi on such mundane points of life as the placement of a comma in a sentence, and there is only one night where Ramón sinks into the depths of despair and cries out in the night, asking why it is that he wants to die. But there are other sequences in the film that answer that question, showing through the literal flights of Ramón's imagination the maddening limitations of his daily routine. In the end, Alejandro Amenabar's film does not ask you to either endorse or accept Ramón's decision, but simply to understand its rationality.