Tuesday, April 30, 2013

970. Hable con ella/Talk to Her (2002)

Running Time: 112 minutes
Directed By: Pedro Almodovar
Written By: Pedro Almodovar
Main Cast: Javier Camara, Dario Grandinetti, Leonor Watling, Rosario Flores
Click here to view the trailer


Yes, that's the best subtitle I could come up with - sorry if it's too low brow.

In high school, I took Spanish, because you were forced to take a language as one of your electives (with Spanish and French being the only two choices) and I can still remember seeing a picture of Pedro Almodovar in my Spanish text book. At the time, I had no clue who he was, only what it said beside his picture. Now, looking back, I think it's kind of cool that they'd include him in the text book. I wonder if Martin Scorsese or Steven Spielberg show up in any English text books, in foreign countries?

"Talk to Her" revolves around four different characters. First up, there's Benigno (Camara), a male nurse at an institute specializing in coma patients. Benigno is a little confused about his own sexuality, but admits that (he thinks) he sways more in the direction of being sexually attracted to men, rather than women. Benigno's main patient is Alicia (Watling), a patient who has been in the hospital for four years, after a car accident left her in a vegetative state. Benigno stays with Alicia most days and nights, reading to her, doing her nails & hair, massaging her, bathing her and talking to her, in addition to countless other tasks. We learn through the use of back story, that Benigno may not be as homosexual as most people think, as it seems he actually knew Alicia before her arrival at the hospital. Alicia was a dancer and the dance academy where she trained was directly across the street from where Benigno lived. He used to watch her from his window and was completely infatuated with her. In fact, he was so infatuated with her, that he booked himself appointments with her father, the psychiatrist, in hopes of having an encounter with her. The other two characters in the story are Lydia (Flores), a bullfighter who gets gored & is also put into a vegetative state and admitted into the same hospital as Alicia, and her boyfriend Marco (Zuluaga), a journalist. Since he's at the hospital everyday anyway, visiting Lydia, Marco begins to strike up a friendship with Benigno.


Movies have a way of really messing with you, if you think about it. Some of you may remember a while back, when I reviewed "The Celebration", I mentioned how odd it was that I actually felt sympathy for the pedophile, rapist father at the end of the film, when his family drives him away from the table. It was such an odd feeling, which is why I spoke about it and Almodovar kind of does the same thing to me again, with "Talk to Her". If any of us were to be watching the news and hear a story about a male nurse who raped and impregnated a coma patient, we would be disgusted and appalled. However, in "Talk to Her", that very same situation plays out and at the end, we're almost in tears for the Benigno character, feeling for him...at least I was. That's one of the really special things about cinema - when done right, it can totally twist your emotions, feelings, opinions and personal stances and make you totally second guess how you would normally view a situation. Did Benigno have issues? Certainly, however, the way Almodovar unfolded the story and told it to us, it wasn't that bad of a thing that he did. The sign of a truly great filmmaker, when they can literally play with your emotions and then make you wonder why you viewed something the way you did.

After the film ended, I asked myself: Should they have filmed the rape scene - between Benigno and Alicia? It only took me a moment to denounce the idea, thinking that anything they filmed would've come off as despicable and would've totally shattered our opinion of the Benigno character. I have to assume that the moment that took place between Benigno and Alicia was actually, probably a beautiful one (at least from Benigno's point of view) and I think it would be impossible to film a male nurse raping a female coma patient and make it look beautiful and touching. Instead, Almodovar tells us a short story, within the movie, about a shrinking man...must be seen to be believed, that's all I'll say.

Anyway, enough theorizing and idea slinging. The film was really great and the two hours seemed to fly by. The entire cast turned in fine performances, especially Javier Camara. The story was magnificent too; very down to earth, dealing with normal people but with a little twist, which I liked. I'm given to understand that this is Almodovar's most normal film, which is disheartening, because that leads me to believe that his other films are a little oddball-esque, which could be a good thing or a bad thing. I'll be watching "All About My Mother" soon, so we'll see how that goes. I think this would be a REALLY good film for anyone wanting to get interested in foreign films. If you're like I used to be and you don't watch a lot of foreign titles, this one is really easy to follow, really good and I think it would appeal to an audience of purely domestic moviegoers. The only thing I really didn't like about "Talk to Her" was the end. Am I really to believe that after all that's happened, now Marco and Alicia are going to have their own little part of this story? I mean, why else flash their names across the screen and elude that the end of the film is only the beginning for these two. It wasn't awful or anything, just a nitpicky thing, but I would've preferred it if they'd just tacked on ten or fifteen more minutes and did a scene with Marco and Alicia talking...about everything.

RATING: 9/10  Can't go all the way, just because, but a '9' is good too. I really can't wait to see "All About My Mother" now and see what it's like.


April 30, 2013  3:44pm


  1. I have seen quite a few Almodovar and liked most of them and found his characters intriguing to say the least.
    And yes, I totally follow the point about how can we end up at least sympathising for a character who abuses a woman in his care..

    1. I really can't wait to see more Almodovar. I think he could be a director I really take to.


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