Talk to Her (2002) from C2000 , Scoop, and Tuna

Original Spanish Title: Hable Con Ella

Three thumbs up. C2000's comments in white.

Two men watch a performance of "Café Muller" by the Pina Bausch company in the opening scene of Pedro Almodovar's latest film. One, Marco (Dario Grandinetti), a best selling travel writer, is moved to tears by the performance - two women wandering in a stupor while two men clear obstacles in their path. The other, Benigno (Javier Camara) is a male nurse who cares for Alicia (Leonor Watling), a beautiful young dancer in a coma. The pair meet again at an elite clinic when Marco's lover Lydia (Rosario Flores), the leading female matador, is gored by a bull and left in a coma. The two men are brought together by the absolute love they feel for their comatose women. Benigno advises Marco to "talk to her", to his Lydia, as he does regularly to Alicia during the four years she has been comatose. Notwithstanding the title, the essence of the movie is the conversations between the two men, the friendship that develops between them and the impact they have on each other.

During the film there is a silent black and white short movie "The Shrinking Lover" in which a scientist's lover swallows a portion that shrinks him. The little man explores the scientist's body before, in a unique form of penetration, disappearing into her vagina. The sequence is shown in full but is significantly less gratuitous than the robot muff diver sequence involving Victoria Abril in "Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down", as a model is substituted for the actress. The sequence is hilarious and communicates to the audience an act Benigno is later discovered to have perpetrated.

Benigno is a disturbed individual, the result of twenty years caring for his mother at the expense of outside human contact. He is more comfortable in the presence of a comatose woman than a living one, and deludes himself into believing that she reciprocates his love. In many ways Marco is more deserving of sympathy. He doesn't wish to be in love with a comatose woman. Benigno, on the other hand, considers it the richest period of his life. Marco's love would seem purer because he can pursue a life away from Lydia but chooses not to, whereas it becomes clear Benigno has no life absent Alicia. Yet, the film elicits sympathy and understanding for Benigno that is not lost even when he commits an unforgivable act. By establishing his objectification of Alicia, one is left with the feeling Benigno would consider his act a form of worship, and expounding his flaws, Almodovar manages to marginalise the revulsion felt towards Benigno. This is partly aided by the unforeseen life enhancing benefit Alicia derives, but is largely because of the manner in which his character has been developed.

This could be tagged a male buddy film or a tragicomdrama but ultimately it's a story - a wonderful, moving, thoughtful story about life, love, relationships and friendship. It draws you in early on and keeps you enthralled to the end. The film opens and concludes with dance sequences that capture the mood of the characters. In the opening dance they are in limbo while at the end they look back with sadness and look forward to the future in hope.


Leonor Watling is topless in five scenes, four of them while lying in a coma. Paz Vega shows her breasts in "The Shrinking Lover" and Elena Anaya is full frontal in a distant flashback sequence.

DVD info from Amazon

  • Widescreen anamorphic 2.35:1.

The two leads do a fabulous job in bringing to life their characters as does Leonor Watling who has the difficult task of spending much of the movie in a coma yet manages to look stunning. Following "Y Tu Mama Tambien", yet another foreign language film proves a great film and great nudity are not mutually exclusive.

Scoop's thoughts in yellow:

I agree with everything C2000 said.

Miscellaneous thoughts:

Almodovar is a refreshingly warm blast of compassion in a cold and jaded world. While many filmmakers try to find the ugliest side of people and events which seem beautiful on the surface, Almodovar does the opposite. He tries to find the beauty in the ugliest deeds and the worth of society's lowest rejects, thereby revealing the essential commonality of human behavior across castes and classes, among life's winners and losers. Even if he were not so good at so many other things, we should treasure Almodovar simply for possessing such a generous heart in an often miserly world.

Tuna's thoughts in aqua:

Almodóvar's Hable con ella (2002), or Talk To Her, is every bit as good as C2000 and Scoopy indicated.

It is ostensibly about two men united by the fact that the loves of their lives are in a vegetative state, and not expected to recover from the coma. Benigno's love is a ballet dancer (Leonor Watling) injured in an auto accident. Marco was getting serious about Rosario Flores, a bull fighter, when she was gored by a bull. The two men meet in an exclusive hospital. The title comes from Benigno's advice to Marco, "Talk to her."

The film is really about the friendship that develops between the two, and even more, the nature of friendship, and of true love. While many tragic events occur, the film is not depressing, because Almodóvar finds the good in his characters, rather than dwelling on their errors. I can't recall a weak performance in the entire film, and the narrative slowly reveals the present and the past, effortlessly switching time frames. This lack of a linear frame of reference de-emphasizes the plot, and allows the relationships to come to the foreground. The script, in fact, won an Oscar.

The score was also outstanding, and even song choices, including a personal favorite, Cucurrcucu, Paloma, were also brilliant.

Oddly enough, this won the Golden Globe for best foreign film, but lost the Goya to "Mondays in the Sun". That must be a hell of a film.

The Critics Vote

  • General USA consensus: pretty close to four stars. Ebert 4/4, Berardinelli 3.5/4, BBC 5/5.

  • The film won Almodovar the Oscar for Best Screenplay, and a nomination for Best Director. It received seven Goya nominations, but won only for best score. (It lost the Best Picture Goya to Los Lunes al Sol.) It won the BAFTA for best film not in the English language.

The People Vote ...

  • IMDB summary. IMDb voters score it 8.3/10 (top 150 of all time). Guardian voters 9.5/10 (highest ever??), Yahoo voters 4.4/5.
  • Box Office Mojo. An arthouse hit. It took in nine million in the USA, despite never reaching as many as 300 theaters, reflecting the film's quality and the USA's ever-expanding market for Spanish-language films.


The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.

Based on this description, this film is a B- or better. It's even worth watching if you don't like subtitled films. Tuna says, "Very few subtitled films at IMDB are in the top 250, and the film is equally popular with men and women."

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