Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Talk to Her

Life. There is so much LIFE in this movie. This movie reminds us how perfunctory and utilitarian most movie characters are. They say things only that advance the plot or maybe because they sound cool, but those character aren't real. They don't exist even in our imaginations. They exist on screen and then disappear immediately once the credits roll. Their actions are, ultimately, boring and inconsequential. This movie makes other movies look bad, because this movie is filled to brim with the energy of life. There is a plot, sure. There's also high drama, sensuality, pain, love, beauty, romance, plus dick and poop jokes.

The movie concerns the relationships of Benigno (Javier Camara) and Alicia (Leonor Watling), and Marco (Dario Grandinetti) and Lydia (Rosario Flores). Both women, eventually, are in a hospital in a coma. Benigno is the nurse who works exclusively on taking care of Alicia, and loves her with all his heart. Lydia and Marco are just a few months into a relationship, both coming off of long term previous loves.

The people are connected contrasts of each other. Alicia a ballet dancer, Lydia a bullfighter. Both strong, athletic, emotional. Alicia delicate and elegant, Lydia bold and beautiful. Both end up in the care of their men. Benigno is caring, loving, also a bit doughy and possibly gay. Marco is more world weary, masculine in look, and a bit cynical. But they bond over the care of the women, which mostly consists of Benigno trying to get Marco to do more than just show up. That's where the title comes from, as Benigno tries to get Marco to further his connection with Lydia, even if she can't respond to him. I won't go into what happens plot wise beyond this point, but it was unexpected yet never hit a false note.

This is the third movie I've seen from Pedro Almodovar, and while I liked the previous two a lot (his Penelope Cruz collaborations in 2006's Volver and 2009's Broken Embraces) this one is truly, deeply special. Made in 2002 after his international success All About my Mother, Almodovar won an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay for this movie and he thoroughly deserved it. It's sharply drawn in its writing, but the movie is so much more than that. Almodovar's camera movement and framing, his famous bold coloring, and especially the performances he elicits from his actors are all deeply moving and extraordinary. Many consider this Almodovar's high point and I'll say that this is the best movie I've seen on this world cinema quest. I love love love this movie.

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