Directed by Pedro Almodóvar
Almodóvar, born in 1949, is widely considered to be the premier Spanish filmmaker of his generation. His movies, though, are anything but typical Hollywood fare. “Talk to Her” follows two highly unusual couples: the first is a travel journalist and a woman bullfighter who has just left her former lover, himself a famous torero. The second consists of a male nurse who lovingly tends a beautiful dancer who has been in a coma for years; these two have never met, but the nurse had secretly watched her, before her accident, for months through the plate-glass window of a dance studio from his nearby apartment. When the bullfighter is seriously injured and placed in a hospital, also in a coma, the two stories come together. The journalist has little hope that the bullfighter will ever regain consciousness, but the nurse insists that both comatose women can eventually be revived through their continual attention. For the nurse, that attention includes constantly talking to the dancer’s beautiful but immobile form, intimately stroking and massaging her in ways that make the viewer wonder where the line is between tenderness and perversity, and even cleaning up the mess of her monthly menstrual cycle. In the end, the audience is forced to address possibly unresolvable questions about love, illness, friendship, loss, and loneliness. Are we any better than the nurse as we ourselves feel drawn to the dancer’s beautiful body? Are there limits to what is acceptable in the name of friendship, tenderness—even love? “Talk to Her” is disturbing, beautiful in its slow pacing and emphasis on visual imagery, well acted, and quite well written (the screenplay won an award). And it is an excellent example of the intelligent, high-art film making still being produced throughout the world today—something that we may well disbelieve as we contemplate the choices available to us at the local centiplex.