Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Nothing Is Simple.

Hmm, second film in a row where I'm going to say very similar things about an acclaimed director.

I'm a fan of Pedro Almodóvar, though some of his films and his artifice I've been known to find frustrating. Probably his most acclaimed film is from this decade, but it is, once again, as with In The Mood For Love, not my favourite film of his (that would be Bad Education.) I'd rate All About My Mother over this film, in fact, putting it at best as my third favourite of his films.

The film I am talking of is, of course, Talk To Her, or Hable Con Ella. Marco (Darío Grandinetti) is a journalist who decides to do an in depth piece on acclaimed female bullfighter Lydia (Rosario Flores), with the two of them ultimately falling in love. Lydia, however, is mauled and put into a coma. In the hospital Marco meets Benigno, a full time carer for another girl in a coma, ballet dancer Alicia. Marco and Benigno strike up a friendship as they care for the women in their lives, but each of them is ultimately ripped away from their care by two different events - one landing in jail.

It is in many ways a simple film, much less complex and multi-faceted as Almodóvar works tend to be. Gone are the flashy exuberances so prevalent in is earlier work (with the exception of the shot of a man shrinking and crawling inside a vagina... though this, in context, strangely doesn't seem anywhere near as gratuitous as it may seem when written), replaced by gentle and normal character arcs. The film is about these two men and, to start with, their relationships with the two central women, but ultimately becomes about their relationship with each other. It's a nice, straight story, with nary a drag queen in sight.

My issue with it is that it just feels a little too straight. What I like about Almodóvar is his flashy exuberance, his drag queens, his gung-ho attitude to character, his predilection to throw in something extreme to throw the audience off-centre. Talk To Her doesn't have any of this (and while I'm here, neither, I feel, did Volver, which is why I don't rate that film particularly highly. Though I think my thoughts on Volver are affected by the fact that I'm male - most every male I know feels my same apathy towards the film, while most every female loves it and thinks it's a fantastic film. Interesting, no?) and that left me feeling a bit empty. I wanted something more from it. I wanted it to blast off and really show me fireworks, and it didn't. It achieved exactly what it wanted to achieve, and it achieved it very well. It is my own personal desire for pyrotechnics that sets up my disappointment, and that's entirely my fault. But it doesn't make me like the film any more than the 'yeah, it was good' that I feel for it. 3.5 stars.

No comments:

Post a Comment