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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 6.25%
Average: 12.5%
Pretty Bad: 9.38%
Total Crap: 1.56%

5 reviews, 34 user ratings

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Sea Inside, The
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by Peter Sobczynski

"Like watching noble and well-meaning paint dry."
3 stars

“The Sea Inside” is a well-made made that takes an important subject and looks at it in a fair and considered manner. The performances are impressive-the central one from Javier Bardem is one of the best of the year-and it marks an intriguing change-of-pace for director Alejandro Amenabar, the Spanish director who became an international sensation with his twisty thrillers “Open Your Eyes” (which later served as the basis for “Vanilla Sky”) and “The Others”. And yet, if I were to recommend it to you, I would have to ignore the fact that for all of its qualities, the film is kind of a drag to watch. For a movie like this to succeed, it needs to be told with a burning passion that makes you respond to it; this one, on the other hand, is like watching paint dray. Intelligent, thoughtful and well-meaning paint, to be sure, but paint none the less.<

Bardem plays Ramon Sampedro, a Spanish man who was paralyzed from the neck down following a tragic diving accident. After enduring nearly 30 years of imprisonment within his own body in the upstairs bedroom of his brother’s home, he ignited a storm of controversy throughout his heavily Catholic country when he campaigned for the right to end his own life. Among the people aiding him in his case is Julia (Belen Rueda), a lawyer who knows all too well the reasons behind Ramon’s desire to end his suffering. Among those trying to convince him to go on living is Rosa (Lola Duenas), a neighbor who visits him regularly in an well-meaning effort to show him that even his life is worth living. Even the church tries to involve itself in the controversy; a crippled priest goes on television to condemn Ramon for his actions and later shows up uninvited at the house in order to further harangue him.

. This is familiar material, to be sure (as anyone who has seen “Whose Life Is It Anyway” can attest) and the central flaw of Amenabar’s film is that while he has certainly made a beautiful-looking film, he doesn’t really add anything new to the proceedings. There are some nice things here and there-I love a bit where someone is forced to serve as a runner between floors during an argument and there is a great and stirring moment when Ramon’s sister-in-law defies both her husband and her religion by telling off the priest when he finally goes too far. However, for every one of those moments, there is another one that simply doesn’t’t; the priest, for example, is so over-the-top and unfeeling that he ceases to be believable and a dream sequence, in which Ramon fantasizes about leaving the confines of his bed, that may have sounded like a nice way to represent his desire for freedom in theory, but which just doesn’t work.

What does make “The Sea Inside” almost worth watching, provided you have a taste for such material, is the amazing lead performance by Javier Bardem, the actor who became an instant star with his work in “Before Night Falls” and also had a memorable cameo in “Collateral”. Virtually unrecognizable here, he inspires sympathy for Ramon’s plight without going for the obvious crowd-pleasing moments. Instead, he lends both the character and the proceedings a weight and gravity that the rest of the film, sadly, never quite achieves on its own.

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originally posted: 12/17/04 23:17:51
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Toronto Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Toronto Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Palm Springs Film Festival. For more in the 2005 Palm Springs Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

2/18/09 NANA MAGHRADZE Splendid script and Breathtaking performance 5 stars
1/08/09 mr.mike Bardem in a virtuoso performance. 4 stars
11/29/08 brian Euthenasia? No, middle-aged in Europe. 4 stars
5/21/07 fools&#9835;gold No film that is this thoughtfully entertaining seeks for an Oscar! 5 stars
8/13/05 Lily Moving , romantic, and funny. 4 stars
7/20/05 Chris Great movie, great acting from Bardem 5 stars
7/03/05 Jackie moving, inspiring, not to be missed 5 stars
6/12/05 B. Patrick remarkable 5 stars
4/30/05 jcjs wonderul..saw one similar a couple years ago but i think i liked this one more, both nice 5 stars
2/01/05 eva 14 goyas, globo de oro,leon de plata...falta el Oscar. es la pelicula del año!. 5 stars
1/30/05 Carrie Hubbard I didn't feel it was Oscar Worthy, but not a bad movie. 4 stars
1/28/05 Tricky that's a masterpiece. One of the best films of the year. Brilliant in all aspects 5 stars
12/31/04 Ziggy Impresionante, read Sampedro's book 5 stars
12/23/04 Maurice Feller Delicious and sensitive movie 5 stars
12/19/04 fan-bardem Wonderful movie.Bardem is the best! 5 stars
12/07/04 ana un obra maestra.Poetica,magnifica musica,grandes actuaciones,fotografia.Ries y Lloras. 5 stars
12/05/04 Mary The best film of the year-. 5 stars
12/04/04 david Bardem the best actoy of year 5 stars
11/28/04 Mikey One of the best films i've ever seen 5 stars
11/21/04 nick kalokasides Disappointed, seeking for Oscars but completely flat 3 stars
11/20/04 me horrible 5 stars
11/20/04 I NOTHING TO SAY 5 stars
11/20/04 JAKE THE BEST 5 stars
11/17/04 Susan Great film 5 stars
11/14/04 Ataraxia The film of the year 5 stars
11/12/04 David I'ts beautiful, perfect 5 stars
10/27/04 Patricia Absolutamente excepcional 5 stars
10/26/04 JOhn Waterloo Incredible performance, amazong script, timeless story 5 stars
10/24/04 ana Maravillosa pelicula. Bardem esta genial. 5 stars
10/20/04 Mavi Interesting topic:euthanasia is well planned and good acting of Javier Bardem 5 stars
10/17/04 Slicker So Beautiful 5 stars
9/20/04 denny films don't get much more beautiful than this - emotionally, intellectually and beauty 5 stars
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  DVD: 17-May-2005



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