Apart from Javier Bardem’s impressive performance, I found parts of this film a little heavy-handed.
A lawyer taking on Ramon Sampedro’s case falls in love with his pro-euthanasia activist, and they have a baby. Cue juxtaposition of scenes of Ramon sad in bed with scenes of her furiously co-ordinating support for him even as she’s wheeled into the delivery room – witness people who believe in euthanasia who also believe in the fullness of life!
A quadriplegic priest goes to Ramon’s house to try and talk him out of seeking euthanasia, but they can’t get the priest’s wheelchair up the stairs, and of course, Ramon refuses to go downstairs. Cue scenes of piggish-looking priest in bulky wheelchair stuck halfway up the staircase while everyone huffs and puffs, and a hapless young priest having to run up and down the stairs carrying messages between the two men – witness how much trouble this piggish-looking priest puts everyone to just so he can live his life, and contrast this with Ramon’s refusal to use a wheelchair or even leave his room!
However, it would be unfair to pretend I was completely unmoved by the film. Upon hearing from Ramon that he has finally found someone to assist him in his suicide, and is about to execute his plan, the activist pleads “Only do this because you are sure you want to, and not because you have spent years insisting that you will,” and I experienced little pricking feelings at the backs of my eyes.
Later, Ramon is being loaded into the van that will bring him to a nearby town, where he has booked a hotel room to die in. Nothing specific has been said about this – on the surface, he has referred to it as a “holiday” – but as he says goodbye to his family for this “holiday”, they know, and he knows they know.