Talk to Her (2002)

(Hable Con Ella)

 

In his twelfth feature, Pedro Almodvar follows the international success  of ”All About My Mother,” arguably his best film to date, with “Talk to Her,” an offbeat, intimate drama that explores the friendship of two men brought together under unusual but strangely similar circumstances.

Stylistically, there are similarities between the two works. If “All About My Mother” ended with a theater curtain opening to reveal a darkened stage, “Talk to Her” begins with the same curtain, also opening. The characters in “All About My Mother” were actresses, imposters, and women’s acting on and off the stage. “Talk to Her” is about narrators, who recount their own lives, men who talk to whoever can or cannot hear them.

The curtain of salmon colored roses and heavy gold fringing which covers the stage is pulled back to reveal German choreographer Pina Bausch’s spectacle, “Café Müller,” a tension-ridden piece. Among the spectators, two men are sitting together by chance.  They don’t know each other.   They are the film’s protags, Benigno (Javier Camara) and Marco (Dario Grandinetti). 

 

On the stage, filled with wooden chairs and tables, two women, their eyes closed and their arms extended, are moving to the music of “The Fairy Queen,” by Henry Purcell. The piece is so moving that Marco begins to cry. Benigno can see the gleam of his companion’s tears, in the darkness of the stalls. He’d like to tell him that he too is moved by the spectacle, but he doesn’t dare.

Months later, the two men meet again at “El Bosque,” a private clinic where Benigno works.  Chubby and slightly effeminate, Benigno is a private nurse devoted to Alicia (Leonor Walting), an aspiring dancer whom he once adored from afar, but who now languishes in a coma after being struck by a car.

Lydia, Marco’s girlfriend and a bullfighter by profession, has been gored and is in a coma.  Marco is certain his interview broke her steely concentration, and he spends most of his days at the hospital, convinced her injuries are his fault.

Alicia and Lydia are both in the same ward of the same hospital.  When Marco walks by the door of Alicia’s room, Benigno addresses him, and a new, intense friendship. 

Largely limited to the confined space (and walls) of the clinic, the tale depicts the lives of four characters as they flow in various directions and times, past, present and future, taking all of them—and the viewers–towards an unknown destiny.

 

“Talk to Her” is the story of intimate friendship between two men, and the loneliness that prevails in the absence of it.  It is also a film about the joys and problems of communication between couples.

Self-reflexive, “Talk to Her” also comments on the medium of cinema and its unique properties, about capturing the essence of monologues and dialogues, and about the power of silence.

But more than anything, “Talk to Her” is about the joy of narration, or how words could be used as weapons against solitude, disease, death and madness. Benigno and Marco develop a powerful bond in their shared devotion to women who cannot return their affection.

 Oscar Nominations: 2

Director: Pedro Almodovar

Screenplay (Original): Pedro Almodovar

Oscar Awards: 1

Screenplay

Running time: 113 Minutes