The movie is based on the true story of Ramón Sampedro, a former ship mechanic from Spain who was paralyzed from the neck down after a diving accident at age 26. For nearly 30 years he fought for the right to assisted suicide.
As a man committed to orchestrating his own death, Ramón (Javier Bardem) hardly seems bitter, angry, or morose. Rather, he exhibits spirit, compassion, and a playful wit. He delights in flirting with the various women in his life, dotes on his teenage nephew, and has devised a contraption that allows him to write (holding the pen between his teeth) what will become his autobiography.
Nevertheless, Ramón remains matter of fact and unshakeable about his wish to die. He refuses to continue a life where time passes against his will and where, as he says, the short distance between him and another human being is insurmountable.
Many pivotal scenes occur between Ramón and his attorney, Julia (Belén Rueda), who has taken on his case pro bono because she believes in his cause. She also has a deeply personal reason for championing his quest for euthanasia.
Confined to his bed at his family's farm in Galicia, Spain, Ramón becomes impatient when Julia interviews him about his life before the accident. He'd rather cut to the chase and discuss his euthanasia request, but Julia explains that the judges will want to identify with him as a person.
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