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Movie Review: The Sea Inside (Mar Adentro)

Alternate Title: To Be or Not to Be:

Story: I only hope I can muster the words to convey to you what this powerful film has to offer. IT IS THE BEST FILM I HAVE SEEN IN 2004. How's that for an opening review statement?

The right to die with dignity is a topic that would clear most rooms. Spanish director Alejandro Amenabar (The Others, Open Your Eyes) faces this enormous film making task with a maturity beyond his years.

It is based on the real life story of Ramon Sampedro, who struggled with the Spanish court system for 28 years, as a quadriplegic, for the right to die with dignity.

Despite the topic, this is an uplifting film. How a man, who for 28 years was dependent on the kindness and care of family and friends, was able to energize all those around him while he struggled with the intellectual questions about life and death is compelling cinema.

We watch as Ramon is able to inspire all those around him to new heights while he lays in his bed. Any film that has out of body travel experiences that work, not as manipulation, but as cinematic clarity, deserves kudos in my review book.

Both sides of the right to die issue are tackled head on in this powerful film. If you were on the fence about the right to die issue (as I was) you might change your mind after seeing this film. This film changes your heart and mind at the same time. I was deeply moved.

Acting: Javier Bardem is the best actor living today! I will stand by that statement and accept all challenges to the contrary. Everyone else in the cast was perfect. Special kudos to the sister-in-law, played by Mabel Rivera.

Predilection: A few months ago when I first saw this preview I dropped my popcorn. Yes, I am a Javier Bardem fan. BIG TIME!

Critters: A cow and two roadside dogs.

Food: Some good hearty Galician home cooked meals.

Blatant Product Placement: None.

Soundtrack: Wagner, Puccini and more. Soaring and perfect!

Theater Audience: The two of us and four guys. The theater we saw this in is located next to Yonah Schimmels' Knish's. At times the odor of midday knishes was overwhelming and a bit distracting.

Sappy Factor: 0

Quirky Meter: 0

Drift Range: I did not drift at all.

Squirm Scale: 0

Predictability Level: I knew what was going to happen because it is based on a true story but the way it was presented was not at all predictable.

Tissue Usage: My movie buddy went through three tissues. I only used one.

Oscar Worthy: Absolutely!

Nit Picking: Not one nit to pick.

Big Screen or Rental: Big screen for sure. For some of Bardem's other wonderful films try renting: Collateral, Los Lunes al Sol, The Dancer Upstairs, Before Night Falls and Jamon, Jamon.

Length: A smidgen over two hours.

LOBO HOWLS: 9.5