A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this movie deals frankly with the suicide of Ramón Sampedro, a man who in real life spent 30 years fighting with the Spanish government for his right to die. The film addresses the last leg of Ramón's battle, as he works with an attorney named Julia and an organization called Death With Dignity to ensure his right to kill himself, an act he ultimately accomplishes through the aid of a number of friends and associates. In its treatment of questions of life, death, and suicide, this movie is quite complex and could be confusing and upsetting to younger viewers.
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What's the story?
Paralyzed from the neck down after a swimming accident, Ramón Sampedro (Javier Bardem) fought the Spanish government for 30 years for his right to die. THE SEA INSIDE tells the story of his real-life struggle and ultimately, his death. Ramón writes poetry and prose, listens to records and works tirelessly toward his death. At the core of the film are Ramón's relationships with his family, as well as with two women: (Belén Rueda), the lawyer who hopes to help him win his case, and Rosa (Lola Dueñas), a single mother who hopes to convince him to live. Despite the objections of his brother and public criticism, Ramón remains constant in his desire to die. Much of the film is a character study of Ramón with pertinent background information relayed through interviews with Julia and conversations with other characters.
Is it any good?
As Ramón, Bardem is extremely charismatic, maintaining the character's wry sense of humor throughout the film. Another standout is Tamar Novas as Ramón's teenaged nephew. From a technical standpoint, the movie is beautiful, particularly in depictions of the beautiful Spanish coast.
Although the topic of The Sea Inside would easily lend itself to a tear-jerking melodrama, the film is for the most part a quiet, meditative film. It asks difficult questions, many of them open-ended, and many of them left unanswered.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the government's role in protecting its citizens and the ethics of suicide and euthanasia. Why do so many people feel that it is Ramón's duty to continue his life? What arguments do these people make? How strong are they? Should the state be able to police suicides? If Ramón were not paralyzed, he could have killed himself unaided. How does his paralysis play into the issues at stake?
- In theaters: December 17, 2004
- On DVD or streaming: May 17, 2005
- Cast: Belen Rueda, Javier Bardem, Lola Duenas
- Director: Alejandro Amenabar
- Studio: Fine Line Features
- Genre: Drama
- Run time: 125 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: intense depiction of mature thematic material.
- Last updated: September 20, 2019
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