There’s a fantasy sequence in Talk to Her, the latest screen provocation from Spain’s leading maverick, Pedro Almodovar, that’s bound to stir up controversy. A man, shrunk to fist size, bounces on the lush naked body of a woman. Climbing up and over her breasts, he lands at the entrance to her vagina, into which he vanishes.
The scene, wildly funny, will later prove essential to unlocking the film’s tragic mystery. Following his Oscar-winning All About My Mother, Almodovar delivers his most haunting masterpiece. The plot is deceptively simple: Two men are in love with women who can’t hear them; each woman is in a coma, their stories told in flashback.
Marco (Dario Grandinetti), a journalist, falls hard for a lady bullfighter, Lydia (Rosario Flores, so alive she seems to leap off the screen), who is gored in the ring. At the hospital where Lydia lies comatose, Marco meets Benigno (Javier Camara), a male nurse who takes special care of Alicia (Leonor Watling), a gorgeous ballerina who fell into a coma after a car accident four years earlier.
It’s the unlikely friendship between these two men that gives the movie focus. Benigno tells Marco that talk is essential to these motionless women. Maybe, inside, they hear and understand. When one of the women becomes the victim of a crime, the film lurches into dark corners of the mind that Almod-var navigates with uncanny skill and passionate heart. The actors are outstanding, illuminating four different views of loneliness. But it’s Camara’s tour-de-force performance that anchors the film, that shocks and unnerves us. Talk to Her goes beyond tears. It’s unmissable and unforgettable.