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Mar Adentro/The Sea Inside (2004) -Spanish with Subtitles-

Ramón Sampedro (Javier Bardem) is a Spanish quadriplegic with a desire to end his life. This fact-based film chronicles his struggles to procure this right while ensuring that no one who helps him will later be prosecuted; a decades-long effort. A furtive love affair with Julia (Belén Rueda), the married lawyer who is helping him fight his case (and who also suffers from debilitating strokes), ends when their suicide pact is called off and she returns to her husband.  A local woman, Rosa (Lola Dueñas), recently unemployed and lonely, becomes his unlikely hero. She falls in love with him and brings her children to meet him. He doesn’t want to lead her on, as he is still in love with Julia. Eventually, she wins him over to allow her to be his companion, even if there is no love for her in his heart.

The story, which could easily have been very stilted due to the limitations of a film consisting mainly of a man who can’t move and lies in bed all the time, instead is alive with feeling and emotion. Dream sessions in which Ramón flies to the beach, which he can smell but not see from his bed, are spectacular. The colors are super saturated in these scenes and one can almost feel the breeze and smell the ocean. The refusal of Ramón to fall into the trap of self-pity, his willingness to debate with a clergyman who has condemned his desire to commit suicide, and the power of his spirit, make this film powerful and uplifting.

 

**I am a native Spanish speaker but I do enjoy foreign films in all languages. Don’t let the subtitles dissuade you. If the movie is good, you will eventually be so engrossed with the story that you’ll forget you are reading the dialogue.**

 
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Posted by on April 16, 2013 in Movie Reviews

 

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Twin Sisters (De Tweeling)- 2002

A touching and thoughtful examination of the lives of twin sisters in the tumultuous 1930’s and 1940’s, this Dutch film received a well-deserved 2003 Academy Award Nomination for Best Foreign Film. The film tells the story of twin sisters separated by the death of their family and sent to live in completely different circumstances. Lotte (Thekla Reuten) is sent to live in the Netherlands with an affluent family while her sister Anna (Nadja Uhl) lives with German peasants. They try to keep in touch with each other, but it becomes more and more difficult as the war engulfs the region.

Lotte, a participant in the Dutch resistance, falls in love with a Jewish man named David (Jeroen Spitzenberger). Anna falls for a soldier from Vienna, Martin (the incredibly handsome Roman Snizka), who is conscripted into the Nazi SS. Each woman loses her love to the war, Martin to a shell explosion, and David to the gas chambers at Auschwitz. All of this is revealed as extended flashbacks, with a modern meeting of the now elderly sisters. Elder Lotte (Ellen Vogel) cuts off contact with her sister Anna in the immediate aftermath of the war. Elder Anna (Gudrun Okras), has spent her life wondering why her sister was so hesitant to write to her as they got older and then cut her off entirely. The two ladies play a game of catch me if you can until Anna tracks down Lotte in a heavily wooded park and the two ladies finally reconcile.

The interactions between these two are so sweet and heartbreaking, especially as they end up stranded in the park and spend the night together sleeping next to each other, something they hadn’t done in more than a half-century. The movie is beautiful, beautifully shot and beautifully lit. It leaves the viewer thinking, a great thing for a movie to do. Subtitled in English, this is one well worth seeing.

 
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Posted by on January 18, 2013 in Movie Reviews

 

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