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Spotlight on: Pedro Almodóvar's Talk to Her (Hable con Ella)

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Pedro Almodóvar's Talk to Her (Hable con Ella)

Benigno (Javier Cámara) is a nurse who takes care of former dancing student Alicia (Leonor Watling), who is in a coma. He first sees Marco at a ballet, crying at a particularly ineffable part of the odd proceedings. They finally meet at the hospital, where Marco has come to visit his girlfriend Lydia, a famous matador who was gored by a bull and is also comatose. The two men share the stories of their women and, although they feel differently about the abilities of the women to understand being spoken to, remain friends -- even through an intense discovery that takes the film in another direction.

Considering that the women's portraits are on the DVD cover, Talk to Her is really about the men and their relationship. The focus is primarily on Benigno and his growing love for Alicia -- we learn more about the beginnings of this in flashback -- and how his caring for her in the hospital is his way of showing it. Camara has soft eyes and a sweet face, which gives Benigno an almost childlike innocence that is needed for us to find him sympathetic, so that we don't question his motives for involving himself so closely with Alicia.

I always enjoy Pedro Almodóvar's films because they are never what I expect a film to be. He continually comes up with off the wall storylines, and his characters never act the way that "normal" people would. Plus, there's always a liberal dose of nudity featured (this time of the beautiful Watling), which never hurts.

One excellent example of this quirky sexuality comes in the middle of Talk to Her, when Benigno describes a film he saw involving a woman and her shrinking husband. The tiny man is shown crawling over his wife's naked body, trying his best to pleasure her. In the end, after some intense exploration, he gives himself fully to her. If this scene didn't so obviously involve a staged set, there is no way it would have escaped with an R rating. But even that is a metaphor to the story, related to Benigno's relationship to Alicia. And it is that sort of writing that is truly Almodóvarian and which I was glad to see finally recognized with an Academy Award.

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