Combustible Celluloid
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With: Javier Bardem, Belén Rueda, Lola Dueñas
Written by: Alejandro Amenabar
Directed by: Alejandro Amenabar
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense depiction of mature thematic material
Language: Spanish with English subtitles
Running Time: 125
Date: 09/03/2004

The Sea Inside (2004)

2 Stars (out of 4)

Bed Man Walking

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Writer/director/composer Alejandro Amenabar returns from histwo breathtaking metaphysical thrillers (Open Your Eyes and The Others) for a routine disease of the week film. Javier Bardem gives atour-de-force performance as quadriplegic Ramón Sampedro, who, after 30 yearsin bed, wishes to die with dignity, despite the fact that his life looks prettygood. He has beautiful women -- a lawyer (Belén Rueda) and a local woman (LolaDue�as) who was inspired by Ramon's television appearance -- fawning over himand a book of his poetry has just been published. Amenabar manages one greatscene in which Sampedro argues with a wheelchair bound priest, sending amessenger up and down the stairs with sacrilegious pronouncements. Yet themovie only wishes to make a soapbox stand about whether or not humans have theright to decide our own deaths, and never comes to terms with the how or why.It's very simple and streamlined, and all that's left is Bardem's bid for Oscarglory, emoting from his bed using only his eyes and his voice. Not to worry,though: Amenabar provides plenty of flashback footage of the young, healthySampedro so that audiences can get a glimpse of the shirtless Bardem struttingon the beach.

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