Talk to Her: Girlfriends in a Coma
Vincent Francone
1/10/2003 3:28:43 PM

I suppose I was predisposed toward liking Pedro Almodo var's new movie, Talk to Her simply because of its base story. Two men fall in love with women, both of whom spend a significant amount of the film in comas. It is the sort of bizarre love story that snags my interest and promises quirks the likes of which Almodo var has given us in the past. The enduring 1999 film, All About my Mother firmly established him as a singular voice in world cinema and introduced to these United States (and its myopic academy) the work of a man the rest of the world was already celebrating. His films have always been interesting, playful, and beautifully shot. Talk to Her is no exception.

The story twists from its launching point, centering around the relationships between men and women and exactly how they come together, become separated and return. So one might say the film is about cycles. Interesting to consider. The story centers around a writer who becomes involved with a female bullfighter. Long into their relationship he witnesses her injury in the arena and becomes the vigil to her subsequent coma. While visiting her in the hospital he meets the second protagonist, an odd, lovable and obsessive male nurse who is one of the few assigned to treat a beautiful young and unconscious dancer. The two men could not be more different in their initial approach to these women, but as their friendship blooms their characteristics evolve. By the film's end we see these people transformed utterly and in places one may never have guessed. Everything has its cycle and each cycle leads to conclusions, some sad but all making sense.

If Talk to Her does anything it forces the viewer to let go of judgments and confront ideas that are a little unsettling. Is loving a comatose person lesser love- or, on a larger scale, is it love if the other person does not reciprocate? Can true love ever spawn an ugly or unnatural act? The actions of these characters are not always what most would consider healthy but in their skewed world it all seems correct. This is the magic of the film. Read as a newspaper article these events would shock and perplex; seen in their proper narrative they seem tragic and sympathetic. This is the task of great art: to render the facts superfluous, secondary to the emotion and power that is felt in each thing that is truly alive. One should drop all conventions when absorbing art and simply let it happen without passing judgement. Reserve such behavior for its proper place. Approaching Talk to Her any other way would be criminal.


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