- Mar adentro
- The sea inside (2004)Alejandro Amenábar's follow-up to his extraordinary box-office hit The Others showed a definite change of direction, shifting from fantasy plots and Hitchcock-influenced suspense to a testimonial story inspired by the real-life case of quadriplegic Ramón Sampedro, who struggled for 28 years to be allowed to die. The plot sounded like yet another unpromising issueled film: after all, how could a film about someone who cannot leave his bed be made entertaining? But it was to Amenábar and his co-scriptwriter Mateo Gil's credit that they managed to find the emotion, the humor, and even the suspense in the story, capturing audience's minds and hearts. Indeed, Mar adentro became one of the films of the year internationally, winning the Academy Award for best foreign film, as well as the Golden Globe and a record-breaking 14 Goyas.To incarnate a perfectly delineated group of characters, Amenábar counted on a strong cast. Belén Rueda was outstanding as the lawyer who also suffers from a disease and tries to help Ramón find a way out of his suffering. Lola Dueñas was touching as the working-class single mother who falls in love with the man. Other parts went to Mabel Rivera, Tamar Novas, Celso Bugallo, and José María Pou, who contributed with intense performances. But, of course, the film is driven by a towering central performance by Javier Bardem; fresh from his turn as Santa, in Los lunes al sol (Mondays in the Sun, Fernando León de Aranoa, 2002), he displays a wealth of registers and emotions, rightly choosing to play up the wittier aspects of the character rather than go for sentimentalism.
Historical dictionary of Spanish cinema. Alberto Mira. 2010.