Ramón is paralyzed - he can move only his eyes and mouth, and has been this way for 30 years. He now wants to die, and he wants whoever helps him to be free from prosecution.
Although based on Ramón Sampedro’s memoir Letters from Hell, and his legal struggle with the Spanish state and the Catholic church, Amenábar’s film has a wider resonance. Ramón wants to die but is always smiling. Profoundly isolated, he lights up people’s lives, connects with them. This is a film about how, in different ways, people are able to love one another.
Javier Bardem’s physical presence and absorption in the role of Ramón and Amenábar’s script, direction and score are impressive. Ramón’s relationship with his family is wonderfully presented and very, very moving. His father is lost in sadness, his brother bitterly opposed to any assisted suicide, his sister-inlaw devoted to him. The scene where he parts from them is almost unbearably poignant.