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“Talk to Her” (Hable con elle). Another film from Almodóvar’s “A” list.

Pedro Almodóvar’s work is notorious for depicting strong women, gays, transsexuals, prostitutes, drug addicts and people on society’s margins. Pablo Allen Haker takes a look at some of the films by this internationally acclaimed Spanish filmmaker. This post is part of Pablo’s series, The Almodóvar Project.
Talk to Her |Sony Pictures Classics

Talk to Her | Sony Pictures Classics

Talk to Her, the 2002 film from Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar, took the director to new heights: the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay — after Spain submitted Los lunes al sol over this brilliant film for consideration in the Best Foreign Film category. He also was nominated for Best Director.

I remember renting this one from Blockbuster the summer before I went to Spain and stopping it a half hour or so into the journey the film takes its viewers due to boredom. But after being exposed to some of Almodóvar’s other films, I gave it another chance and fell in love with this beautiful masterpiece. It’s not an easy film to watch, as the drama unfolds slowly until an unforgettable conclusion, and the film talks an unexpected, dark turn (which I won’t spoil here).

Two men, strangers, watching the play Café Müller are unaware that their lives are about to cross. Benigno (Javier Cámera) notices that Marco (Darío Grandinetti) is moved to tears by the performance. Marco is a journalist who decides to do a story on woman bullfighter Lidia (Rosario Flores), who he ends up becoming involved with. She comments she has news for him the day of an important fight — where she is gored by a bull and winds up in a coma. At the hospital, he meets Benigno, who remembers him perfectly from that theatre performance.

talk-to-her3Benigno is a nurse, also caring for a woman in a coma. Alicia is a dancer who Benigno once admired from his flat overlooking a dance studio across the street and who he became obsessed with. One day, he follows her after she drops her wallet and finds out her father is a psychiatrist. He makes an appointment, and finagles a way to see Alicia in a shower. After not seeing see her for a week, he finds out that she had been in an accident and is a coma. He tells her father he is gay in order to be hired as an exclusive nurse to Alicia. Four years later, he is still caring for her in the coma.

The two men strike up an odd friendship. Benigno suggests that Marco “talk to her,” Lidia, while she’s in the coma, which gives the film its name. However, all is not what it’s seem, and it’s soon discovered that despite being in a coma, Alicia is pregnant. What’s going on?

Talk to Her is the culmination of twenty years of hard work making films for Almodóvar. The cinematography is top-notch and the visuals are stunning, while the director takes advantage of flashback storytelling to build suspense. The music also masterfully creates the ambiance of the film, and he was rightly rewarded with an Oscar for this amazing film. Even his usual actresses are left in the background. The zaniness is gone, the explicit sexcapades are gone, and what’s left is a beautiful narrative about friendship and obsession in a way that only Almodóvar could direct.

Rating: A

Almodóvar Checklist:

Chicas Almodóvar:  Lola Dueñas, Carmen Machi, Loles León, Elena Anyaya, Chus Lampreave, Cameo from Cecilia Roth and Marisa Paredes
Antonio Banderas: No.
Poisoned Gazpacho: No
Madrid: Sí
Galicia: No.
Drugs: No.
Musical Sequence: Theatrical scenes, a guy singing at a party.
Men Too Gay To Function: No.
Transvestites: No.
Surreal rape scene: The rape happened off screen.
Furniture Ikea Could Never Market: Of course. Noski. Claro.

Meta Slow Camera Pan To Show How Much He Really Loves Cinema: Sí
Mirror Scene: Yes. Rearview mirror in the car even. And one with one-way mirrors superimposing an image of the two friends over each other.
Aspect of Spanish Culture Turned On Its Head: Women bullfighters.
Dress from Lady Gaga’s rejected pile: No.
Catholic Church As Bad Guy: No.
Taxi: Sí.
His mother: No.
Reference to earlier film: A clock has the face of the Mujeres al borde poster.  Manuela and Huma Roja from Todo sobre mi madre have a cameo.
Odd Advertisement: No, but an extremely odd entire silent black and white film within the film starring Paz Vega. 

~~~

Hable con ella, la película de 2002 de director español Pedro Almodóvar, llevó el director a alturas nuevas: el Oscar por Mejor Guion Original después de España elegió Los lunes al solpara representar el país en la categoría Mejor Película Extranjera en los Oscars. También recibió una nominación por Mejor Director. 

Me acuerdo aquiler el DVD del video club Blockbster el verano antes de venir a España por la primera vez y que lo devolví después de una media hora porque me aburrí. Cuando la di otra oportunidad después de ver otras películas de Almodóvar, me encantó la película y la reconocí como la obra maestra preciosa que es. No es una película fácil digerir, porque el argumento desarolla lentamente hasta su final memorable (no os doy ningún spoiler)

Dos hombres, desconocidos, están viendo una obra de teatro (Café Müller) y no saben que sus vidas van a cruzar y cambiar sus vidas para siempre. Benigno (Javier Cámera) nota que Marco (Darío Grandinetti) está llorando por la obra de teatro. Marco es un periodista que decide escribir un artícula sobre una torera feminina, Lidia (Rosario Flores), con quien se enrolla. Le comenta que tiene noticias por él el día de una corrida de toros importante, y después, el toro le cornea. Después, Lidia está en una coma. En el hospital, conoce a Benigno, y Benigno le recuerda de este día del teatro. 

Benigno es enfermero y le cuida a una mujer que también está en una coma. Alicia era bailarina. Benigno siempre le miraba fijamente de distancia desde su piso enfrente de una escuela de baile y se obsesionó de ella. Un día, le persigue después de a Alicia se le cae la cartera y descubre que su padre es un psiquiatro. Pide una cita con él y arrelga ver a Alicia en la ducha. Después, no la ve durante una semana y se entera que hubo un accidente y ella está en una coma. Le cuenta a su padre que es gay y el padre le contrata como enfermero exclusivo para Alicia. Cuatro años después, sigue cuidandole a Alicia quien todavía está en la coma.

Los dos hombres empiezan una amistad rara. Benigno le surgiere a Marco que “hable con ella”, Lidia, mientras está en la coma, que le da nombre a la película. Sin embargo, no es lo que parece, y pronto el hospital descubre que a pesar de estar en una coma, Alicia está embarazada. ¿Qué está pasando? 

Habla con ella es la acumulación de veinte años de trabajo duro de Almodóvar. La cinematografía es de primera categoría y los visuales son impresionantes. El director usa mucho la téncia de flashback para crear suspenso. La música también crea el ambiente del film, y era premiado con el Oscar por este película genial. No es una chiflada. No están los aventuras sexuales explicitos.  Incluso sus Chicas Almodovares solo tienen papeles pequeños. Lo que hay es una narrativa hermosa sobre amistad y obsesión en una manera que solo Almodóvar puede hacer.

 


This piece first appeared on Pablo’s setmeravelles.com.
photos from IMDb

Haker-PabloPAUL ALLEN HAKER, Pablo to his friends, is a thirtysomething English teacher and writer who lives in Bilbao in the Basque Country in northern Spain. Constantly searching for deeper meaning in life, Pablo spends most of his money on travelling and learning languages (he speaks English, Spanish, Catalan, Italian, and is currently trying his hand at Basque). When he’s not teaching, at the gym, travelling or watching films, he can be found working on his novel or reading at a café.  Keep up with his travels and writing at SetMeravelles.com.

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