Pedro Almodóvar, Spain, 2002
Posted: March 15,
Pedro Almodóvar's fascination with and fear of the female body takes
center stage in Talk To Her. Having worn out his feelings on the maternalistic aspect of womanhood with his 1999 masterpiece
All About My
Mother, Spain's greatest auteur since Luis Buñuel concentrates his focus on
the power, beauty, fragility and natural rhythms of the female anatomy.
Utilizing the bright, bold cinematic strokes for which he's known, Almodóvar
ably considers whether it's possible to love a woman solely for her body, or
if the love one feels for another dies once the mind of that person has been
The plot centers on two men -- Benigno (Javier Camara), a male nurse, and
Marco (Dario Grandinetti), a journalist and author of travel books -- and
the two comatose women they love. Alicia (Leonor Watling) is a beautiful
young dancer who's been in a coma for four years due to a car accident, and
is now tended to full time by Benigno. Benigno barely got to know Alicia
while she was still conscious, but now explores every part of her body as
her caretaker. Lydia (Rosario Flores) is a famous bullfighter, unlucky in
love until she meets Marco. Their relationship brings happiness to both, but
then Lydia is gouged in the ring and placed in the same hospital as Alicia.
There, the two men get to know one another, and the degrees of their
involvement with each other and the two women grows increasingly complicated
Benigno's love for Alicia was born out of a distant infatuation, while the
older Marco's relationship with Lydia was one of two professionally
successful but emotionally unfulfilled adults, hurt or disappointed in past
relationships, finding solace with one another. For Marco, the idea of
loving Lydia now that what made her Lydia is gone is all but impossible.
When Benigno gives Marco a simple piece of advice -- to talk to her, as he
does almost continuously to his beloved Alicia -- Marco cannot; the woman he
loved is now just a hollow, essentially lifeless shell. Benigno, on the
other hand, knows that under normal circumstances Alicia wouldn't have had
the slightest interest in him; in her comatose state, he has her right where
he wants her.
Almodóvar's attempt at resolving the issues of the two men and their
comatose women proves far trickier than the intriguing setup. Unfortunately,
the director falls into a familiar trap that has served him so well in the
past: Melodrama. All About My Mother worked brilliantly precisely due to its
creative use of melodramatic tension and overblown, artfully clichéd
situations. Talk to Her suffers as a result of this same tendency, however,
primarily because the mood here is more naturalistic and somber. Almodóvar
has grown up as a filmmaker, no longer playing Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down games
with his audience, and it's a credit to his craft that he tackles such
complex and endlessly fascinating themes of love, loss and the nature of
obsession as smartly as he does. But that doesn't prevent him from
introducing shocking elements later in the film that veer a little too close
to pat soap opera or tabloid press payoff, regrettably dampening the overall
impact of the story.
While the story may waver, the performances are strong, especially Camara's
Benigno and Grandinetti's Marco (who of course have the most to work with).
And Almodóvar once again displays how well versed he is in the language of
cinema, conveying his ideas and themes through powerful visuals rather than
expositional dialogue. In a scene certain to attract attention, Benigno
recounts to Alicia a silent movie he has seen in which the lover of a female
scientist shrinks himself after drinking one of her potions and, in a
sequence Freud would have undoubtedly found analytically satisfying, crawls
inside the woman's vagina, disappearing forever. Almodóvar's playful
fearlessness with the form, so intertwined with his own anxieties and
devotion to the feminine mystique, remains one of the director's most
Despite its flaws, Talk to Her successfully transcends mere art-house
contrivance. In exploring the boundaries between physical and mental love,
and the theme of finding the beauty within, it offers an honest and
refreshing look at the nature of love and its meaning for different people.
design copyright © 2001-2011 Shaking Through.net. All original artwork,
photography and text used on this site is the sole copyright of the respective creator(s)/author(s). Reprinting, reposting, or citing any of the original
content appearing on this site without the written consent of Shaking
Through.net is strictly forbidden.