TALK TO HER ****
By GUY FLATLEY
CAST: Javier Camara,
Dario Grandinetti, Leonor Watling,
Rosario Flores, Geraldine Chaplin, Mariola Fuentes, Lola Duenas,
Beatriz Santiago, Paz Vega, Fele Martinez, Adolfo Fernandez, Elena
Anaya, Loles Leon
WRITER/DIRECTOR: Pedro Almodovar
a man is given the responsibility of looking after a beautiful ballet
student who has been in a coma for four years, he may brush her
hair, change her gown and even tell her stories, but it is strictly
against the rules of the clinic for him to make love to her. This,
however, is a film by Pedro Almodovar, an artist who plays by his
own rules. And so we have not only the story of besotted male nurse
Benigno and sleeping beauty Alicia, but, just down the hall, the
equally exotic tale of inconsolable journalist Marco and comatose
Lydia, the bullfighter with whom he remains passionately in love.
Benigno and Marco, whose paths had previously crossed at the performance
of a bizarre ballet in which a silent man frantically tries to protect
two blind women from danger, come to truly know one another at the
clinic and to forge a spiritual bond. Which is not to say that each
copes with the loss of a loved one in the same sane, legal way.
Morbid, perverse and in extremely questionable taste, this scenario
might well have sailed over the top and into the realm of high camp.
Yet Almodovar--the former bad boy of the Spanish cinema who shocked
and entertained us with "Dark Habits," "Law of Desire" and "Women
on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown" before taking a giant artistic
step with "All About My Mother"--defies our expectations. Thanks
to his skill and unique vision, sick characters and grotesque events
have a way of transforming into agents of healing and designs for
living. His astonishing screenplay, shifting back and forth in time
and layered with tenderness and humor, turns out to be a graceful,
mysterious meditation on our unquenchable search for human connection.
In his haunting achievement, Almodovar has been abetted by the stunning
imagery of cinematographer Javier Aguirresarobe and by the breathtaking
music of Alberto Iglesias and Caetano Velosa. Among the players
deserving the highest of praise are Javier Camara and Dario Grandinetti
as Benigno and Marco, Leonor Watling and Rosario Flores as the recipients
of their adoration, and the extraordinary Geraldine Chaplin in the
small but strong role of a luminous ballet teacher.
Almodovar's "All About My Mother" won an Oscar as Best Foreign-Language
Film of 2000. I say, forget the language and put "Talk to Her" in
the proper category--Best Film of 2002.