The Sea Inside

Rated 4.0

Director Alejandro Amenábar’s Oscar winner (for best foreign film) tells the true (but fictionalized) story of Ramón Sampedro, a paralyzed former merchant seaman who spent 30 years lobbying the Spanish government for permission to commit assisted suicide. In Amenábar’s version (co-written with Mateo Gil), Sampedro (Javier Bardem) makes the acquaintance of two women: a human-rights lawyer (Belén Rueda), slowly dying of a degenerative disease, who agrees to help plead his case; and an unemployed single mother (Lola Dueñas) who tries to convince him that life is worth living after all. Amenábar’s many human touches, and Bardem’s almost cheerful performance, keep the film from sinking into depression, and in the end it becomes something of a paradox: a story about suicide that is somehow life-affirming.