Talk to Her (Pedro Almodóvar, 2002)
Javier Cámara (Benigno Martín), Darío Grandinetti (Marco Zuluaga), Leonor Watling (Alicia), Rosario Flores (Lydia González). Screenplay by Pedro Almodóvar. Directed by Pedro Almodóvar. Rating: 15. Running time: 112 minutes.
As ‘normal’ as an Almodóvar film comes and arguably his most emotionally mature effort to date, Talk to Her suspends the director’s obsession with transsexuality and all things devious, replacing them with what is for his standards strangely straightforward drama. That’s not to say that what happens isn’t original – it is, and we’re led once again to feel strongly for characters and then have those feelings tested and twisted as events unfold. In fact, Almodóvar reaches a level of mastery here with regards to this aspect of his work that calls for very close appreciation indeed. Benigno, a male nurse caring night and day for a comatose girl, is a fascinatingly troublesome creation, and comes to us from the mind of a man which for so long has been renowned for its producing of strong female roles. The matriarchy persists here, but in a new form, the men being the focus but devoting their lives to the care of sleeping women. The film develops a friendship peculiarly touching to observe, and Almodóvar fleshes out the style with trademark crisp colour, the melancholy sound of violins and the incredible use of a fabricated old silent film. It speaks volumes that even the xenophobic Academy could appreciate the screenplay here. Talk to Her is a masterful work of manipulation. Like most dramas, it makes you feel, but what it makes you feel is indescribably unique, utterly real and ultimately quite remarkable. It’s a talent that has taken a long time to perfect, but now Almodóvar stands amongst a select few as one of the true geniuses of cinema. Talk to Her once again shows his power to work with the strangest of material and yet ensure from his audience whichever reaction he wants.
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