The Sea Inside has Spanish filmmaker Alejandro Amenábar's (Open Your Eyes) auteuristic grip all over it. Besides directing, Amenábar also co-produced, co-wrote (with longtime collaborator, Mateo Gil), scored and edited this saga about a true-life quadriplegic who campaigned for 30 years against Spain's judiciary for the right to end his life. Paralyzed after a diving accident, Ramón Sampedro (Javier Bardem) is reduced to lying supine in a room of his older brother José's farmhouse. Day and night, year after year, Ramón is vigilantly cared for by José (Celso Bugallo), and his small clan. The slow grind of Ramón 's existence, salved only by his family's devotion, eventually wears the patient down to where he feels euthanasia is the only dignified option left.
Ramón's outspokenness wins the interest -- and the affections -- of a pair of women: Julia (Belén Rueda), the terminally ill lawyer who helps Ramón build his case, and Rosa (Lola Dueñas), a single mother drawn to Ramón out of loneliness and her admiration for his strength. But while the sensuous Julia, herself coping with illness, fully sympathizes with Ramón 's cause, the feisty Rosa sulks and frets whenever Ramón so much as breathes a word of his intentions.
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