Talk to Her (2002)

"Talk to Her" is a movie that never claims to be anything but itself. Though it has elements of comedy, tragedy, drama, crime, suspense, erotica, silent film, and surrealism there is something terribly straight-forward about its twins and turns. At the end of it all, it is a story and at that it proves that Pedro Almodóvar is a masterful weaver of tales.
The film's beginning has us thinking of Tarantino simply because it's impossible to avoid the director, particularly when concerning films that look and feel the way this one looks and feels.
There are two men in a theater, watching Pina Bausch's "Cafe Muller" which is just as eerie as it has always looked. The dancers stumble around with their eyes closed and one of the men tears up a little.
Then we jump over to a hospital where the non-crying man is a nurse, caring for a woman in a coma. He gives her a manicure and then he and another nurse wash her.
We jump back and forth between men and we observe little snippets of their lives. The nurse is named Benigno (Javier Cámara) he's a curious little man, "odd" hardly seems like the right word. Then there's Marco (Darío Grandinetti) who turns out to be a writer. As he's working out one morning, Marco watches an interview with a female bullfighter named Lydia González (Rosario Flores) and is captivated by the athlete. He decides that he wants to write an article about her; but that's not as easy as just asking.
This is your basic set-up...from there Almodóvar takes you on a wild ride, one that you may not appreciate.
When you go into the movie, you need to not have any ideas of what the film is going to be about, you'll only confuse yourself. Almodóvar defies any strict genre and generalization. Just when you think you have it figured out, he surprises you.
There are the classical Tarantino motifs like the chapter-esque moments with text on the screen that pairs up several of the characters at different times. "Talk to Her" is mostly a romance, if you want to define it with just one genre. Though deeming and considering it to be a love story makes the film even more disturbing.
Much of the film's time is eaten up with odd coincidences, ones that are played out very straight-laced, as if this sort of thing happens all the time.
When you consider the bullfighting, the comas, the creep factor, and the whole idea of love presented in the film, it's amazing that film was ever a success. Once again, I find myself thinking that Almodóvar is a fantastic director, simply for the way you oblige his whims.
As the story progresses, it gets darker, substantially darker.
And here...I find myself at a loss for words. It's a powerful film and at the same time, it feels paper thin.
There is an emotional element to the movie, but it gets shadowed by the crime side of the picture.
I'll give it this, "Talk to Her" is stylistically pleasing and a bridge between many genres; but the moments of recounting a silent film and the unveiling of a crime don't bring us any closer to liking the characters, it distances them from us.
But "Talk to Her" is just a story. I don't think it's trying to humanize anyone or make vast statements about men or women... Almodóvar just made a film, and what's wrong with that?

Score: ★★★

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