"The Sea Inside"
Directed by Alejandro Amenŕbar.
Written by Alejandro Amenŕbar and Mateo Gil.
Starring Javier Bardem and Bélen Rueda.
Release Year: 2004
Review Date: 2/27/05
Even though it is subtitled and mostly about
a quadriplegic lying in bed, "The Sea Inside" is a really deep,
thought-provoking film about the duality of those that are
entrenched in what seems like a no-win situation.
The winner for Best Foreign Language Film at
the Oscars on Sunday night, "The Sea Inside" follows the true story
of Ramon Sampedro (former Oscar nominee Javier Bardem), crippled in
an accident 30 years prior to our meeting him and a strong proponent
of euthanasia. He has hired a lawyer named Julia (Bélen Rueda)
who is also the victim of a crippling disease; he needs this lawyer
to help him voice his opinions on his wishes to attain the rights to
die of his own accord. Over the course of the film we get to
learn much about what happened to Ramon on the fateful day of his
accident, as well as what it must be like to wake up every day
wanting to not see another sunrise.
Bardem is excellent; in fact, I'm a little
surprised that this work didn't score him a second Oscar nomination,
he was so brilliant here. I was really struck by how natural
Bardem looks in his environment; the crushing part of the film for
me was when Ramon spoke about smiling to mask the pain of his
situation; naturally, he is smiling almost all the time during the
movie. Two other performances really stood out for me and gave
the film all the nuance it needed: Rueda, as the lawyer, who
just gives you that hint of fragility beneath the surface; hey, it's
her job to speak up about the wishes of her client, but during the
quiet moments, she seems to truly be mystified by why her client
wishes so badly to take his own life. Also, Lola Duenas is
strong as Rosa, a local single mom that becomes more and more
interested in Ramon and his wishes as the movie rolls along.
At first, the Rosa character really annoyed me...and, it was fun to
become less annoyed with her all film long as we get to know about
her past with abusive men and how tough she has it in her situation
at home with her kids.
Again, I was truly worried that a 125-minute
film that dealt mainly with a quadriplegic that doesn't leave his
room was going to have me all sleepy by the end of it (especially
when you consider the subtitles), but the pacing of the film and its
use of flashbacks keeps it fresh and humming along at a decent pace.
It's a beautiful film to behold, especially during those dream
sequences, and even though there are a couple moments where you
might lose it emotionally, the filmmakers are good to not make this
a sapfest. Ramon's terminal condition is already tough enough
Not great, but "The Sea Inside" was a solid
time at the movies and well worth my $9.50. After seeing him
last year, Bardem just seems to be able to steal a movie out from
under you if you are not careful. I'm excited to see what he
Rating: $9.50 Show
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Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard