Talk to Her (Hable con ella)

Talk to Her

Life emerges out of death.

It’s hard for me to get excited about a Pedro Almodovar film; I just don’t gel with the man’s style of filmmaking. Even with only one more of his films left on the list for me to watch, it was with some trepidation that I started on it. It was about a half hour into the film that I made a realization; this was very well done. Not only that, it was well done in such a way that I was highly enjoying it, like I’d imagine one would enjoy a fine wine or cognac. I guess I’d just been waiting for Almodovar’s filmmaking style to mature into a richer form than his earlier works, because this totally felt like the Almodovar film I’ve been waiting for, without even knowing it.

The film details the friendship between two men, strangers at the start of the film, as they care for and look after (and, as one of them advises, talk to) the two women each man loves, who are in a coma. The film tells its story mostly from the present, where the two women are already in the hospital, but frequently delves into flashback territory to show how each relationship began and the road it took to get to where it is. This was quite a surprising reversal of Almodovar’s normal modus operandi; his films usually deal with strong female characters, and focus on them as life throws hurdle after obstacle their way to see how they deal with it and evolve as people. Here, the two women characters are unconscious, and the focus is instead on the man in each relationship, and how they eventually become friends through their mutual livelihoods of caring for their loved ones. The film takes a somewhat more dour turn near the end, but it totally fit with the storyline that was being told, and I think that’s what made Talk to Her work as well as it did for me; the story was exceptionally realistic, but still filled with enough drama and occurrences that a story was told either way. The script even won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay, over all the English-language nominees, which says a lot, especially now that I’ve seen the film and loved the story it told and how it told it; dialogue, plot turns, description, everything was just spot on. The cinematography was also quite noticeable (in a good way), filled with vibrant colors as well as a muted palette when the film called for it.

I guess the best way to finish this off is to repeat what I said in the opener: this is the Pedro Almodovar film that I’ve been waiting for. There wasn’t much to say about it, but I still loved damn near every minute of it, and thanks to the film’s economical running time, it never overstayed its welcome. I don’t know if I would call this a masterpiece, but I definitely won’t hesitate to say that it is Almodovar’s best film, at least of the ones I’ve seen. I’m also glad to see that this has survived the recent restructuring of the list, and is present in the 10th edition; for me, if any Almodovar film should be there, it should be this one.

Arbitrary Rating: 8/10

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