Wednesday, February 05, 2003

Talk to Her
Girlfriend in a coma, I know, I know… (okay that’s lame but so what)

Written and directed by Pedro Almodovar, "Talk to Her" is a mystery. But it's about love, so that makes perfect sense. Ostensibly about two men in love with women in comas and their relationships with the women, the film is also an exploration of the bonds formed between the two men. Nurse Benigno loves ballet dancer Alicia, and travel-writer Marcos loves bullfighter Lydia. The film begins with these two men, strangers at the time, watching a dance performance seated close to each other; they later become acquainted when Lydia has been gored by a bull and placed in the private clinic where Benigno works. Their lives are intertwined forevermore in bizarre ways; but, heck, it is Almodovar, so not unexpected. The men love their women in two distinctly different ways: Benigno through fantasy and Marcos through reality. Benigno is 30 years old and a virgin. He has spent four years tending to Alicia; before that he took care of his mother for years. One could say that his experience with women is a bit limited; but paradoxically it isn’t. At one point Benigno tells Marcos—who is clearly overwhelmed and saddened by Lydia’s condition—"A woman's brain is a mystery, and in this state even more so. Talk to her." Did I mention the film is full of paradoxes? Lydia the bullfighter is terrified of snakes and abandons her house when she finds one in her kitchen. The macho, stoic Marcos tears up in many scenes. A friend of mine suggested the paradoxes were to reflect the characters’ vulnerabilities. Perhaps. Maybe these paradoxes are metaphors of Almodovar’s concept of love being a combination of two opposites: reality and fantasy. The film also takes little detours such as a dream sequence in the form of a silent film, "The Shrinking Lover,'" about a man who... well shrinks and finally disappears into... well… I can’t give this away. You just have to see it for yourself if you haven’t already. The film has a bit of a whodunit and an open ending. The effect of it all leaves you puzzled and scratching your head—kind of like love.