Talk To Her

Talk To Her

****

Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

He has been the enfant terrible of Spanish cinema for so long, the epithet has lost its sting. At the rebirth of democracy, after the death of Franco, he broke loose with Pepi, Luci, Bom and the name Almodovar became synonymous with new sexual freedom, as well as a launching pad for exciting young actors, such as Antonio Banderas.

With the excesses of Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down and the frivolous sophistication of Women On The Verge Of A Nervous Breakdown behind him, the writer/director delivers a film of depth and sensitivity, in which silence plays a crucial role in understanding the mystery of communication.

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It is the story of a friendship between two men, told in relation to their emotional involvement with women in comas. However bizarre this may sound, Talk To Her avoids Almodovar's love of ambiguity in matters of sexual orientation. There are no women-who-are-men-who-are-women here. It's fairly straight, although deceptively unusual.

Benigno's (Javier Camara) infatuation with Alicia (Leonor Watling) began before her accident. He watched her at ballet class from the window of an apartment opposite. Almost certainly a virgin, his life until now has been caring for his bedridden mother. After her death, he takes a job as a nurse at a private clinic where Alicia lies in a vegetative state.

Marco (Dario Grandinetti) is an Argentinean travel writer, who becomes involved with a bullfighter, Lydia (Rosario Flores), on the rebound from a dysfunctional attachment to a drug addict. After Lydia is gored in the ring, she is taken unconscious to the clinic, where Marco meets Benigno and an unexpected friendship takes root.

Almodovar makes no assumptions as to the nature of their feelings. Benigno is feminine and Marco masculine and yet this is not a gay relationship. Through a strange coincidence, they find themselves watching over and tending women who are unaware of their presence. It is, in a sense, a shared loneliness.

The film is absorbing rather than depressing, uplifting rather than sad. The performances of Camara and Grandinetti are perfectly judged. Love is a healer and death a journey. And, while you ask, it's all right for a man to cry.

Reviewed on: 21 Aug 2002
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Friendship develops between two men who love women in comas.
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Director: Pedro Almodovar

Writer: Pedro Almodovar

Starring: Javier Camara, Dario Grandinetti, Leonor Watling, Rosario Flores, Geraldine Chaplin

Year: 2002

Runtime: 112 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: Spain

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