by Elaine Perrone
Talk to Her is a visually stunning, emotionally breathtaking experience, by far Pedro Almodóvar's best, and --along with All About My Mother -- most accessible work.Talk to Her opens to a staged performance of modern-dance by legendary performer/choreographer Pina Bausch, depicting two women lurching about the stage, in a trance, while a third person on the stage, a man, tries to anticipate their direction and push furniture out of their way. Sitting in the audience, transfixed and moved by the performance, are two men, strangers whose lives will later intersect through tragedy. Benigno (Javier Cámara) is a male nurse and caregiver for Alicia (Leonor Watling), a former ballet dancer who lies comotose after an automobile accident. Marco (Dario Grandinetti) is a journalist, whose lover Lydia (Rosario Flores), a female bullfighter, also goes into a coma after having been gored by a bull. The two forge a friendship as the one stands vigil at the bedside of a real love, to whom he can't speak, and the other tends lovingly to a woman whose connection to him is only a fantasy in his mind.
"A sensory banquet!"
I was moved to tears by the depiction of Benigno's loving care (too loving, as we learn) of Alicia, and Marco's bittersweet recreation, through a haunting dream sequence, of happier times with his lost love, Lydia.
I was moved to tears of laughter, as well, by a wicked little sub-plot in which Benigno tells the comotose Alicia about a silent film he's seen, about a lab experiment gone awry, resulting in a unique sexual experience for a Tom-Thumb-sized man and his scientist girlfriend. (And who but Almodovar could have envisioned such a vagina?)
I was transported by the sensuality of dance, both from the perspective of the dancers caught up in it, and the emotions of the men watching them.
One of the film's highlights, for me, was Marco's dream, while sitting with the comotose Lydia, a powerful and haunting vision of a lush garden setting with a group of rapt people listening to a sublime rendition of Cucurrucucu Paloma. (Look for Marisa Paredes here, in an unbilled cameo.)Like Sex & Lucia before it (with which, by the way, this film shares several cast and crew members), Talk to Her is a sensory banquet. Also like Sex & Lucia, Talk to Her received that highest of praises from me: I turned right around and screened it again!
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originally posted: 07/19/04 00:47:27