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Spain 2002
Directed by
Pedro Almodovar
113 minutes
Rated MA

Reviewed by
Ruth Williams
4.5 stars

Talk To Her

Synopsis: Two men sit side by side in a theatre watching a performance. For a brief moment, it appears as if they could be there together. Once it is established otherwise, there is little doubt that they are destined to cross paths sooner or later. The events that bring them together revolve around the fact that they both find themselves caring for women who are in a coma.

One need look no further than the opening scene to glimpse the way in which the fate of Benigno (Javiar Cámara) and Marco (Dario Grandinetti) is about to unfold. In the performance, two women with closed eyes flail around blindly while a man attempts to keep one step ahead of them in order to move chairs out of their way so they won’t harm themselves. Our curiousity is immediately aroused. Who are these men? Why is one moved to tears? Why does the other man glance at his companion with a look that holds so much?

Talk To Her is a beautiful film in so many ways. If you imagine that opening scene as the baton in the hands of the conductor - held up in the air - that moment before the baton is flung upwards and the orchestra follows in full force. The world offered by Almodovar is not one that would usually be called beautiful. An attractive young woman lies in a hospital bed in need of 24-hour care. Who is she, and what unfortunate event caused her to fall into a coma? Here we find Benigno. He’s the male nurse whose job it is to provide the high level of care required. Meanwhile Marco, a journalist, decides to make a female bullfighter, Lydia (Rosario Flores), soon to be the object of his desire, the subject of his next article,.

There is nothing in these circumstances that sounds particularly special. The beauty lies in the depth of the respect given to the main characters as they reveal themselves to us. There is a generosity of spirit evident in the portrayal of Marco and Benigno that is not often seen in the two-hour time-frame of most feature films. As with the opening dance performance, the inclusion of another dance piece in the closing scenes, a live performance by the much revered Brazilian singer Caetano Veloso, and the screening of a silent film as Benigno describes it to Alicia (Leonor Watling) effectively capture the themes of the film: where does love lead us? and what are we willing to sacrifice for it?

Almodóvar is often considered to have a strong affinity with his female characters. In Talk To Her, he manages to show this same sensitivity with his two male leads. You could go so far as to say that he doesn’t make assumptions about a person based on their gender; or their occupation or inclinations for that matter. At times Benigno is as lovable as Marco is, even when his obsession with Alicia borders on what could be considered psychopathic. It is this relationship to the unique nature of each individual that makes Almodóvar’s film so refreshing. When a line of dancers moving across the stage can bring tears to your eyes, it is clear that there is more to this film than that which appeals to the intellect.




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