Friday, 15 July 2011

Mar Adentro - The Sea Inside / Out at the Sea

2004 by Alejandro Amenabar - Spanish with Catalan in between

There are times when I have wondered, what would it be if at all one fine morning I find myselves with some disabilities, may be seriously disabled to not even move out of the bed or not even move the whole body other than being able to just see, talk and eat. I wondered how my world would react to me and how I would react to the world. Would I be looking at people coming in and crying or would I receive them with a smile or tears. Would I still want to watch movies or Messi dribbling the Football or wonder about the effects of day light in the room I am in or worry about not being able to have sex and all. I don't have any idea and often such thoughts have ended with a decision that if at all something like that occurs, its better to die than giving a terrific trouble to my loved ones around. It was quite easy for me to fall for this movie and I must say it is a heart touching movie.

The true story of Ramon Sampedro, a fisherman at the Galician cost of Spain, who met with a diving accident and got his whole body paralyzed, except for his head and neck. He spend 27 years on the bed, in his brothers home, being taken care of by his sister in law and his nephew. They loved him and did all what they could but Ramon didnt want a life without dignity and he sought to kill himself. But the Spanish courts and Church was against the idea of Euthanasia. A lady lawyer, herself suffering from illness, joins his fight. 

Ramon is not against life actually, he just doesnt want a life without dignity, being not able to move out of his bed and not being able to even touch the attractive female who is sitting next to his bed. He keeps on smiling always and answers Julia, the lawyer, that he smiles as he doesn't want to cry. In fact he cries through his laughs. A really wonderful and touching character he is. There are three women around him. Gene, a local activist who brings in Julia the lawyer, Manuela, his sister in law, who is taking care of Ramon for all this 27 years just like her son and Rosa, a young mother of two boys who finds out that Roman is the only kind man she has ever met and finally agrees to help him die, just to prove her love to him, ie to do what will please him. She gets him cyanide actually. The way Ramon treats all this women, and how they treat him is really wonderful and actually forms a major part of the movie, keeping their struggle for his death wish aside. Julia, when she suffers another stroke, even agrees to help Ramon to die, before she will do the same to her. We also see Ramon's brother who is quite a rustic man, but seems to be the only person around who doesnt want to fulfill Ramon's wish. All these characters, except Julia,  will touch us, as much as Ramon himself. Julia's is one character which wasn't really successful, for me. I do not know how to present it here, but I thought she doesn't really seems to invoke the kind of feeling, probably because the script failed to place more impetus on her.

A brilliant movie, which is handling such a serious theme, but still makes it look like it is going through the life of a nice man, a biopic, and the people around him. It never gets very emotional, except for a couple of scenes. And a couple of scenes, like the debate of Ramon with the Bishop, similarly paralyzed but against Euthanasia, are quite funny and thought provoking too. I wonder how the Spanish Church must have reacted to the whole criticism towards the Church's hypocrisy here. Ramon's points about the church burning to death almost every free thinkers in historic Europe, but not letting him die is clearly sharp and focused. It was even more apt how Manuela brilliantly treated the priest, calling him a big mouth.

I first watched Javier Bardem in Vicky Christine Barcelona. I was really impressed then. Slowly with other movies I was convinced that he is one of the best actors in the world. Well, with Mar Adentro, I can only say he must be treated among those actors in the highest level, if at all there is any such level. Truly brilliant performance, may it be his crying smiles, or his seductive chats. But the highlight was his fear, when he knows something has happened to Julia, next door. That scary face of Javier is etched in my eyes. So is the tear filled face of Manuela, brilliantly played by Mabel Rivera, during Ramon's good bye scene from his home to Rosa's. (This was one of the best scene's in this movie) For most parts of movie, she is just a care taker, but she gets as much prominence as Javier in some very important scenes. Everybody did a great job, may be except the actress who played Julia. At least in the beginning Julia looked like somebody who is walking out of Hollywood. May be I am wrong, I seem to find fault with both her character and the performance. The make up on Javier was brilliant too.

I must say this is a kind of master piece on Euthanasia. When watching Million Dollar Baby, we are grief struck by the end of the movie, and it is not the same with Mar Adentro. But the grief is actually subtly spread out through the whole movie, in a gripping way that we forget about the whole sentiments in  a way. I must say its a brilliant piece of treating a very touching and serious theme. The cinematography is really brilliant too. The movie shows couple of times how Ramon's neck hits the sea bed during his dive and that shot was a master piece. The first time we see it we have a shock, but even later when it is repeated the effect is only more actually. And so was it during Ramon's dream flight scenes and how Ramon saw the outside world after 27 years, when he was taken to the court. The latter was simply too good.

My salutes to the whole team, for making such a gripping story of life and death. Life is a right, not an obligation


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  2. I have seen "Guzaarish" by Sanjay Leela Bhansali based on Euthanasia...and liked it upto some extend. By going through the story of "Mar Adentro", i feel like the former one was inspired(as usually said) by this movie. But this one seems to be more touching and appealing!!!

  3. @ Roshini didnt see Guzaarish. Seeing the trailer, with typical horrible acting, was enough to decide so. Anyways, since Devdas, I am not keen on Bansali.