Talk to Her
Javier Camara, Dario Grandinetti, Leonor Watling, Rosario Flores, Mariola Fuentes, Geraldine Chaplin, Pina Bausch, Malou Airaudo, Caetano Veloso, Roberto Alvarez, Elena Anaya, Lola Duenas, Adolfo Fernandez, Ana Fernandez
At what point does grief turn into acceptance and when must one decide to move on in spite of the possibilities of reconciliation? Pedro Almodovar’s meditation on love and loss makes a compelling script in Talk to Her.
Benigno (Javier Cámara) meets and falls in love with a matador, Lydia (Rosario Flores), and finds his world turned upside down when an accident in the arena leaves her comatose. Refusing to leave her side in spite of her dire prognosis, Benigno becomes friends with a nurse, Marco (Darío Grandinetti), who is looking over another comatose patient, Alicia (Leonor Watling), whom he fell in love with from a distance while he was caring for his invalid mother. As the two become friends, Marco encourages Benigno to talk to his comatose paramour much like he does with his own.
Over time, major events in both of their lives cause them to change course, Benigno heading off to write a travelogue while Marco is arrested for rape. Their paths will cross one more time, but each will have different news to share, their lives having drifted far enough apart to become merely acquaintances with one managing to overcome his grief and the other utterly unable to let go of his obsession.
After two runs at the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar (Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown lost and All About My Mother won), Pedro Almodovar earned his own nominations with two citations for this film, one for Best Directing and the other for Best Original Screenplay, winning for the latter. As one of the most celebrated foreign auteurs of the last two decades, Talk to Her feels like an organic exploration of love, loss, and grief, seeing how different types of personalities handle tragedy in unique ways.
Cámara and Grandinetti deliver fine performances, digging into the heart of each man and successfully evoking their hopes, dreams, and fears. Cámara has the tougher job as he must balance the extreme loss he’s already felt when his girlfriend broke up with him and then the renewed feeling of love he felt upon meeting Lydia through his work as a freelance writer. Although Flores and Watling have few lines of dialogue in the totality of the film, their presences are keenly felt as their paths cross through the eyes of the men in their lives.
Almodovar’s simple script reveals itself in complex ways, asking the audience to empathize with his characters in situations that seem unusual, but feel all too human. As Marco insists Benigno express himself to a comatose woman, Benigno soon discovers the catharsis that can come with unburdening oneself even if the other party cannot perceive it. The title Talk to Her is a simple exhortation from one grieving man to another, but it resonates further with the audience who sees the simple declaration as a call to expression, demanding that the audience not only empathize with figures, but take their struggles to heart so that when grief faces each of us, we can learn a valuable lesson from these men.
March 22, 2021