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Pretty Bad: 2.5%
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3 reviews, 22 user ratings

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Talk to Her
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by EricDSnider

"You can talk, but she won't listen."
4 stars

Pedro Almodóvar has directed a couple dozen films in his native Spain, but the two most familiar to American viewers are “Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!” (1990) and “All About My Mother” (1999). The latter won the Oscar for best foreign-language film, but it’s the former -- about bondage -- that is closest in spirit to Almodóvar’s latest effort, “Talk to Her,” a rumination on love that becomes more twisted as it goes.

It seems benign to begin with, albeit non-traditional. Benigno (Javier Cámara) is a nurse whose primary concern is Alicia (Leonor Watling), a pretty young woman who has been in a coma for four years. Benigno is dedicated and professional, caring for Alicia as if she were awake and could appreciate it. He talks to her, takes her on the hospital balcony for fresh air, and tries to preserve her dignity: In an early scene, he makes sure she is not exposed when he and another nurse change her bedclothes.

Meanwhile, there is Marco (Darío Grandinetti), a magazine writer pursuing as a subject (and perhaps as a love interest) Lydia (Rosario Flores), a lady bullfighter. Soon, however, she is in a coma, too, and Marco and Benigno -- who encountered each other briefly at the theater some months ago -- have occasion to be introduced formally.

With our heroines in comas, much of the story is told in flashbacks. We see the twists and turns of Marco and Lydia’s relationship, and learn the origin and full extent of Benigno’s devotion to Alicia.

Benigno, who looks innocent and perhaps even mildly retarded, insists to Marco that speaking to a coma patient is not fruitless. “A woman’s brain is a mystery, and in this state, even more so,” he says, recalling “All About My Mother,” which also sought to plumb the depths of the female mind (though those females tended to be conscious).

Though “Talk to Her” is about communication at first, it slowly becomes a story of loneliness and desperation, of devastating sadness that some people will do anything to avoid. There is a jaw-droppingly outrageous black-and-white sequence -- Benigno’s account of a sexually explicit silent film he watched -- that is the turning point for “Talk to Her,” the moment when it becomes fundamentally bizarre. And yet it remains sweet in its way, playful and creative in the way it examines our relationships, making the point that ALL human interaction is at least a little bit strange.

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originally posted: 07/07/03 09:28:43
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User Comments

4/19/11 Steve Joyce Deeply disturbing yet a wonderful 5 stars
11/03/07 Charles Tatum Completely improbable and totally wonderful 5 stars
5/17/06 cpbjr wonderful story 5 stars
8/19/04 Peter B. Great movie, story and... music! 5 stars
7/21/04 Laura Shangraw Really draws you in 4 stars
6/25/04 milehigh Amazing a film this good is considered one of Almodovar's weaker efforts. 5 stars
4/11/04 The More You Know Well-written, well-told tale of profound relatedness. 5 stars
1/30/04 Phil M. Aficionado Good and offbeat enough to grab; and hold, to the ending. 4 stars
6/23/03 David Berne Intimate, irreverent, unforgettable, lovely 5 stars
6/15/03 Jack Sommersby Disappointingly tame and uninteresting fable from a once-volatile director. 2 stars
3/24/03 Vitality1 The black & white scenes were a bit odd, but I cried nonetheless. Very good! 4 stars
2/28/03 Matthew Smith a very involving and moving drama that will stick in your mind long afterwards 4 stars
2/18/03 spaceworm saw this the day after seeing DAREDEVIl and felt lots better bout movies in general all ove 5 stars
2/13/03 Mopsa Not one of Almodovar's best, but it's a profound and moving film 4 stars
1/18/03 KCobain a very rich film 5 stars
1/03/03 carlmzapffe A brilliant work of art and one of the best films of this year. A new Almodóvar classic! 5 stars
12/31/02 Don Great 5 stars
12/29/02 Film Fan Without question, the best of the year. Never thought i'd agree with Time magazine :) 5 stars
12/29/02 Eh ... 3 stars
12/23/02 NoMargin Beautiful stylistically and emotionally 5 stars
11/29/02 mr. Pink Certainly not one of his best, but still good 4 stars
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  22-Nov-2002 (R)



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