Directed by Alejandro Amenábar, starring Javier Bardem, Belén Rueda, Lola Dueñas, Mabel Rivera, Celso Bugallo, Clara Segura, Joan Dalmau, Alberto Jiménez and Tamar Novas.
'The Sea Inside' has already collected a Golden Globe for Best Foreign Film and is up for two gongs at the upcoming Oscars. If there is any justice at all in the movie world it will collect Best Foreign Language Film and be recognised in the Achievement in Makeup category when the stars some out to shine in Hollywood.
The film is based on the true story of Ramón Sampredo (Bardem), a former ship mechanic from the northwest of Spain who became a quadriplegic after a horrific diving accident at the age of 26. We meet him 29 years later where he is still fighting against the Spanish government for the right to enlist help to end his life.
The issue of euthanasia is a divisive one and although naturally this movie leans towards a pro stance, it is not so biased as to alienate those with a different opinion. It will, however, persistently pose a difficult, but critical question of the viewer: is life a right, or an obligation?
There is more to it than that, of course, and the film follows the wit, charm, intelligence, humanity and utter despair with which Ramón deals with his intolerable situation. It also focuses on his relationships with the people closest to him. His family have basically sacrificed their own lives to care for him, despite opposing his wish to "die with dignity". Mabel Rivera is extraordinarily good as Manuela, Ramón's sister-in-law, who loves him and takes care of him as if she were his mother. Young Chilean-born director Alejandro Amenábar ('The Others') has done his ever-growing reputation no harm at all either.
However, it's hard, and unfair, to single individuals out for praise as each actor completely commands their own part in a film that, although is very serious and deals with an extremely sensitive and emotive subject, is laced with witty moments to lift the spirits periodically. Nevertheless, the inescapable fact is that your views on euthanasia will either be shattered or thoroughly reinforced by watching this.
Go with an open mind and prepare to be moved, humbled, entertained and educated.