ella by Spanish director Pedro
Almodóvar is a masterpiece: The narration, rhythm
and flow of the film, the
handling of parallel actions and the choice of actors testify to the fact that
an outstanding artist has been at work. Furthermore, he has invited another
genius, German dance choreographer Pina Bausch, to contribute pieces to Hable con
ella. And that is where the movie begins.
The curtain of roses and heavy gold fringing which covers the stage of a
theatre is pulled back to reveal Pina Bausch's spectacle Café Müller.
Two women and a man are dancing to the music of The Fairy Queen (The
Plaint: O Let Me Weep, Forever Weep) by
Henry Purcell. Among the spectators are two men, sitting side by side, who do
not know each other. One of them, Marco (Darío Grandinetti) is so moved that
he starts to cry, observed by the other one, Benigno (Javier Cámara).
By the way, "the man who cries" would have been another appropriate
title for the film according to
Almodóvar if only Sally Potter had not thought of it first.
Months later, the two will meet again at the private clinic "El
Bosque" where Benigno works, looking after Alicia (Leonor Watling), a
young ballet student lying in a coma. Marco arrives in the clinic because his
girlfriend and bullfighter, Lydia (Rosario Flores), has been gored by a bull and
has fallen into
a coma too. This time, Benigno dares to speak to Marco - this is the beginning
of a strange relationship between a somewhat retarded male nurse and an
Benigno (Javier Cámara) has spent most of his life around a bed. When his
mother turned forty, her husband had just left her and, in the mirror, she saw
the first signs of the ephemeral nature of her beauty. She decided to install
herself in bed and never left it again. Benigno looked after her day and
night. He even studied nursing to learn how to take better care of her. His
mother told him before she died that he had to live and to look after himself
after her death. Benigno looked out of the window. Diagonally across the
street was the Decadance Ballett Academy where he saw the
young Alicia (Leonor Watling) in her training lesson for the first time.
When Benigno's mother died, after twenty years in bed, he was 25 and had known
neither female nor male in his young life. When Alicia left the training
building one day, she lost her purse. Benigno, waiting for her, found it and
gave it back to her. Afterwards, he followed her back to her home.
Alicia's father was a psychiatrist and, in order to be close to her, Benigno
presented himself in the doctor's cabinet.
Unfortunately, he was not able to make a connection with her. One day, she was
hit by a car and ended in a coma. Benigno, as a good male nurse, got the job
to take care of her since bodies in a vegetative state need 24-hour care.
Benigno's evolution from a naive nurse and an almost childish young man with a
certain femininity, acquired through his constant and sole contact with his
mother, to a bearded prisoner after a tragedy which only Marco (Darío Grandinetti)
could understand, is one of the great acting achievements in Hable con
Marco (Darío Grandinetti), the sentimental, nostalgic and mysterious
Argentinean journalist, traveler and travel guide writer has a different, but
also moving story of life. His girlfriend - she was still under age when he
met her - is a heroin addict. Their relationship sinks into a hell of
aggression and lies. In order to keep her away from drugs and, therefore, away
from Madrid, he takes her on his travels around the world. After seven years
and seven travel guides, Marco leaves Angela with her parents who manage to
separate her not only from the drugs, but also from Marco.
Years later, Marco meets Lydia (Rosario Flores),
a bullfighter who has just ended a relationship. Marco accompanies her to all
the places where she fights. But one unfortunate day, she gets wounded by a
bull and falls into a coma.
Another masterful story by Pedro
Almodóvar is the one that Benigno watches on one of his free nights in a
cinema and which he tells afterwards to the recumbent, remote Alicia. It is
the silent Spanish film Amante Menguante (Shrinking Lover) - of
course shot in black and white by Almodóvar, who uses this seven-minute story
as a front to hide what is really going on at that night in the clinic between
Benigno and Alicia.
Shrinking Lover is a melodrama about a beautiful scientist whose lover
takes a potion she just had invented but not yet tested. He begins to shrink.
In one dreamlike scene, he walks around and on the body of the scientist as if
she was a landscape. In the end, he disappears forever - accompanied by a last
sigh of the sleeping beauty - between her legs. The seven minutes were inspired
by the movies The Devil Doll by Tod Browning (1936) and The
Incredible Shrinking Man by Jack Arnold (1957).
Among the other memorable moments of Talk To Her are an intimate and
heartbreaking live-rendition of Cucurrucucú Paloma by Caetano
Veloso and the final scene, Masurca Fogo, another piece
by Pina Bausch.
ella is a touching and artistically impressive movie about friendship and
love, loneliness and monologues, communication and absence of communication,
couples and impossible conversations, disease, death, madness and much more.
Read the following lines only after you have seen the movie! Pedro
Almodóvar says that several true incidents, which happened in the last ten
years, have inspired him to do Talk To Her. Among them: an American woman
wakened from a coma after sixteen years; a young night watchman in a morgue in
Rumania felt attracted by the corpse of a young girl, possessed the dead
beauty and the dead girl came to life because she had been suffering from a
kind of catalepsy and had only seemed to be dead (there is also a French film
about it); a girl in New York who had been in a coma for nine years became
pregnant, without awakening from the coma, the culprit was an orderly in the