Reviews of Talk to Her
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Pedro Almodovar continues to amaze me. He first did it with his film Volver, and then again with Bad Eduction. Talk to Her, the third film I’ve seen by him, is by far my favorite of the bunch. A tale that deals with loneliness and isolation, communication between the sexes, among other things, truly echoes though my head long after the ending credits finished rolling.
Where do I even start? There are so many images and small scenes that race through my head when I think about this film. From the graceful photography of the bullfight, to the character interactions between Benigno and Marco, as well as the scenes between the friendless Benigno and the catatonic Alicia. Almodovar expertly weaves the script together to create a lush, fulfilling picture. The timing of comedic relief is perfect and there were multiple points throughout the film where my eyes began to water up.
One technical aspect that really impressed me was the use of music. The sound design is jaw dropping, specifically the one track where we hear a series of thud inter-cut with silence, as if someone is cutting the music off and then restarting it. If anything it reminded me of a David Lynch film, and I couldn’t help but feel absolute dread whenever this track kicked in.
I really urge those who haven’t seen this beautiful film to see it as soon as possible. For those who have already checked out Almodovar’s work and thought it was alright, or those who didn’t get much from it, make it a point to at least see this one film. It will be worth your while.
- Currently 5.0/5 Stars.
“Love is the saddest thing when it goes away,” Marco—one of the central characters in “Talk to Her”—reflects achingly, quoting a song by Antonio Carlos Jobim. Marco (Darío Grandinetti) is an Argentine writer with a delicate soul, a man whose quiet masculinity is softened by the subtle weeping that overcomes him in moments of longing and remembrance. It is during one such teary moment, at a play in Madrid, that Benigno—the film’s other central character—first encounters Marco. Benigno (Javier Cámara), a male nurse and apparent homosexual, is moved by Marco’s tears. Both men, it turns out, know the sadness—and loneliness—that fills the heart after love leaves.
By the time he sees Marco at the theatre, however, Benigno has already found a new love object to worship. After caring for his sick mother during most of his adolescence, Benigno is granted care of Alicia (Leonor Watling), a beautiful coma patient and former dancer for whom he dotes on as he did for his mother. Benigno’s own mother was very beautiful, or so he tells Alicia’s psychiatrist father during a doctor’s visit prior to Alicia’s accident. Just as Benigno maintained his mother’s good looks as her insides wasted away, he preserves Alicia’s appearance while caring for her physical health.
When Benigno and Marco meet again several months later, Marco has found love in the form of a female bullfighter named Lydia—and watched her goring in the corrida. With her face bruised and scarred, Lydia (Rosario Flores) arrives in Benigno’s clinic in a vegetative state equal to Alicia’s. Beyond their similar diagnoses, both women had a gift for graceful movement. We see only glimpses of Alicia’s ballet dancing in flashbacks, but Almodóvar photographs Lydia’s bullfights lovingly enough for us to draw the parallel. Whether through bullfighting or Pina Bausch’s choreography, dance—in a larger sense—infuses “Talk to Her” the way acting permeated “All About My Mother”; it shapes both the characters and the tragedy.
Though love begins for Benigno after Alicia’s accident, it ends for Marco soon after Lydia’s. To the discomfort of Marco and others, Benigno is content with his one-sided relationship with Alicia, if only because it parallels the relationship he had with his mother before she died. Marco, however, can’t attend to Lydia the way Benigno thinks he should. He can’t “talk to her” because, in reality, the couple had difficulty communicating even before Lydia was in a coma. Their relationship worked best when Marco could protect her—from snakes and from her former lover, El Niño—the way he protected his previous lover. His role is that of a savior—even if he ultimately fails to save the women he loves.
Early on in the film, when Marco tells Lydia about the lover he lost, she asks him if he’s single. “I’m alone,” he replies, emphasizing the difference between being without a partner and being truly alone. Benigno, too, makes the distinction when Alicia’s father asks him if he has a partner. “I’m not alone anymore,” he tells the girl’s father, not daring to tell the whole truth. Benigno doesn’t have a real partner, but he has found “someone” in Alicia. And though the love that eventually grows between Marco and Benigno is platonic, it’s extremely powerful nonetheless. For when things take a disturbing turn, loyalty prevails—and proves that neither of the two men is alone anymore.
- Currently 5.0/5 Stars.