Movie Marathon #7: Talk to Her

by thethreepennyguignol

Pedro Almodovar makes patchy, patchy films. Volver? Genius. Atame!? Pish. The Skin I Live In? Visionary. Bad Education? Bleh. And so on. Pretty much, when he’s on, he’s on with fireworks blowing out his arse and steam coming out of his ears, and when he’s off he makes soap operas with actresses who should be doing far better things.

Luckily for me, Talk to Her is an excellent movie; flawed, yes, but driven by two excellent central performances. Tracking the relationship between the male nurse of a coma patient and the boyfriend of another patient in the same hospital, it takes on a variety of typically huge themes; sexuality, love, rape, obession, men climbing up inside giant metaphorical vaginas-your usual Almodovarian affair. But what sets it apart, at least for me, is the quiter nature of the film- although it features some ridiculous sequences and powerful scenes, it eschews his usual shrieky stlye of direction to create a mournful, very modern tragedy.

The real kudos must go to Javier Camara for his performance as Beningo, the male nurse who looks after a young female dancer stricken into a coma. He’s an awful man, in so many ways, but he’s also an innocent; there’s only a small part of him that is aware what he’s doing is inherently wrong, and he is consistently misled by emotions only he truly believes he has. He’s ambiguos and interesting, and that’s more than can be said for most of Almodovar’s straight-down-the-line creation.

The developing relationship with the gorgeous Dario Grandinetti, who winds up meeting Beningo after his girlfriend, a bullfighter, winds up in a coma after a fight turns nasty, is also beautifully handled. Grandinetti’s Marco is reiticient and as weak as Beningo in his own ways, but gradually comes round to feel sympathy and to even care for the horribly misguided nurse. It’s an odd Almodovar film in that it doesn’t focus on the women in the story-for most of the film, the key female players are in comas- but rather on the way that, even when they are not physically or mentally present, these strong, ambitious women have an untold influence over both these men’s lives.

Christ, that was pretentious.