Unusually for Almodovar, the emphasis is on the two male characters, with the female leads spending much of the film as "objects" in a vegetative state. Dario Grandinetti plays Marco, a journalist who befriends Lydia (Rosario Flores), a female bullfighter. Following a goring in the ring, she lapses into a coma. At the clinic where she is kept on life support, Marco meets a somewhat effete male nurse, Benigno (Javier Camara) who lovingly tends to a ballet student, Alicia, also chronically comatose. They strike up a friendship, their respective stories emerging through flashbacks. Both, however, respond to their common fate in different ways. Marco is distraught at the loss of Lydia, whereas the dysfunctional Benigno is blissful, tending to Alicia, for whom he nourished an obsession prior to accident. Reduced to being a vegetable, she is fully, unresistingly, his.
It's a tribute to Almodovar that he is able to handle the outlandish, potentially appalling subject matter of Talk To Her with such finesse. Emotionally, it's often on a knife edge; there are moments when you don't know whether to laugh, gasp or sigh. But when ultimately you find yourself welling with tears of sympathy for an alleged rapist, you realise what a master filmmaker Almodovar is.
On the DVD: Talk To Her offers an excellent transfer of a visually handsome movie. Extras are a little disappointing--just trailers for Almodovar's more outlandish Live Flesh and All About My Mother. --David Stubbs
The film begins and ends in the theatre. The performances there suitably reflect the dilemmas evoked in the film and the relationships of the men with their women. The fascinating thing about this film is the way that a story between the men is handled on the surface whilst a subconsciouss story is told by the women in their comas. Gradually, through the use of flashbacks, their story emerges and we are led to image what is happening in their heads while in the hospital. It is interesting to note that the silent film sequence was originally written by Almodovar to be made into a full-length silent film. What we are given is a delightful though shocking glimpse of what that would have been. It is touching to see Almodovar's small nod of tribute to Michael Cunningham's The Hours which is a novel he states he really enjoyed. The film characteristically stretches our ideas of high drama and the far-reaching regions of sexuality. This is a beautiful film to follow from Almodovar's internationally successful All About My Mother (Todo Sobre Mi Madre).
Although the plot is very intriguing and keeps you in suspense, and the film is certainly very funny at points, to me, that is not what the film is about. It is about human nature, about finding beauty amongst all the misery and grotesque that life throws at us. It is about being strong and surviving.
The funny punchy dialogue is up to the high standard Almodovar has spoilt us with before. My favourite being the short but hilarious role of Chuz Lampreave as the nosey housekeeper we once met in “Women at the verge of a nervous breakdown”.
If you are an Almodovar’s fan, please don’t miss this one. If this is your first film, this is an excellent introduction to a great director.
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