A review of “Talk to Her” by Jeanne Aufmuth

 

Stars: ****

Rating: R for nudity, sexuality, language. In Spanish with English subtitles

Run Time: 1 hour, 52 minutes

 

 

 “Talk to Her” (“Hable con ella”) is one of the year’s most glorious films, as abstract and inventive as only Spanish auteur Pedro Almodovar can deliver.

Long known for his garish production design, quirky characters, and surface slick, Almodovar has turned his practiced eye onto male and female psyches.  “All About My Mother” was a sensitive group portrait of the gentler sex.  “Talk to Her” prolongs the theme, focusing on men who fall in love with women under the most trying of circumstances.

Alicia (Leonor Watling) is a comely ballet student, felled by an accident and sunk into a seemingly irreversible coma.  Day after day Alicia is cared for by devoted male nurse Benigno (Javiar Cámara), who speaks to the unconscious girl as if the two were engaged in spirited conversation. 

Magazine journalist Marco (Dario Grandinetti) falls hard for female matador Lydia (Rosario Flores) during an interview for an exclusive story.  Shortly thereafter, Lydia suffers a terrible goring accident in the bull ring and is rushed to the hospital in a coma.  Thrown together by a tragic state of affairs, Marco and Benigno develop a profound friendship based on parallel circumstance – both acutely in love with women who cannot speak to them.

“Talk to Her” is vintage Almodovar – offering up an offbeat quartet of colorful characters infused with vivid arrays of human emotion. Passions, obsessions and loneliest dark spots are pushed to their most virtuous limits, lending the narrative an unusually surreal tone.  Light moments jockey with bleak, structured into graceless time transitions that necessitate a peak level of awareness (pay attention!).

Performances are superb - refreshingly genuine and unselfconscious. Action is supported by a stunning soundtrack that lilts with melodious accents.

Visually stunning and emotionally compelling “Talk to Her” is Almodovar at his best.