Studio: Fine Line Features (released Dec. 17)
Storyline: Pic is based on the real-life story of Ramon Sampedro (Javier Bardem), a Spanish poet and former ship mechanic who became paralyzed in a diving accident. After 30 years in bed, he fights for his legal right to die, surrounded by his family and two women who fall in love with him: Julia (Belen Rueda), the lawyer who takes his case, and Rosa (Lola Duenas), a feisty local factory worker who tries to convince him to live.
About the script: Amenabar and Gil use poetic language, emotionally precise scenes and magical realist flourishes to create a whole world through the personalities surrounding the bed of this intelligent, charming man who is resolute in his desire to die, steeping the audience in the warm, animated life he wants to leave. “I met Ramon’s family and they told me about all these women falling in love with him,” Amenabar says of his initial interest in the story. “He would use humor to disarm people if he suspected that there was pity, and he was able to seduce all these women from bed. I thought this must have been an incredible character.”
Biggest challenge: “We didn’t want the story to feel like a play. The main character is Ramon, so we had to stick with him, but every time we felt trapped, we challenged each other and said, ‘Let’s find a way to get out of the room.’ ”
Breakthrough idea: “By literally jumping from the window, we could avoid being in the same place all the time. The sea was so important to Ramon, but from his window he couldn’t actually see the sea. We thought about changing that, but then we came up with this better idea: having him fly out the window towards the ocean. I think that’s where the audience really connects with Ramon about what he needs.”
Standout scene: “The scene of the farewell with his family is very moving. You can see that there’s something very deep going on, but these people are very reserved and that made this story more touching.”
Choice lines: Ramon’s father says, “There’s only one thing worse than your kid dying on you. Him wanting to.” There’s also: Julia asks Ramon, “Do you smoke?” He responds, “Every once in awhile, in case it kills me.”
Writers’ bios: Before writing, directing, producing, editing and composing the music for “The Sea Inside,” Amenabar wrote and directed “The Others,” starring Nicole Kidman, and the Spanish films “Open Your Eyes,” “Thesis” and “Luna.” He co-wrote the script for “Vanilla Sky,” the English adaptation of “Open Your Eyes.” He made his first film, “Himenoptero,” in 1991, when he was 19. Gil has collaborated with Amenabar since they were both teenagers, co-writing “Thesis,” “Open Your Eyes,” and “Vanilla Sky.” Gil also wrote and directed the feature “Nobody Knows Anybody.”