Talk to Her - Critical Debates, Quotes from Almodovar and Genre and Visual Discussion


Sleeping Beauty theme and the 'Brain Dead Trilogy'

Sleeping Beauty

- Women in comas in T2H,

- Overdose on sleeping pills in Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown,

- 'Brain-Dead Trilogy' - 'Flower of My Secret' and 'All About My Mother',

- Unlike these films Talk to Her tackles resuscitaion and reawakening.

- 'Only the dancer is bought back to life, through acts of love, verbal and physical that reawaken her body as a motherland.'

- 'The expressive power of body language... (lends itself to) the 'dumb show' dimensions of melodrama, those non-verbal histrionics that Almodovar has mastered and now pushed all the way into dance.'

- Benigno rejects two patriarchal institutions which frequently play a crucial role in this genre because of their simplistic approach to language psychoanalysis and law.

- Alicia's hair clip - vagina dentate vs benign vagina of The Shrinking Lover.

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Visual Aesthetic

Use of bright primary colours

- red is used throughout T2H - Lydia's cloake when bull fighting, lava lamp,

- The Flower of my Secret - bright colours including red and green, artificial looking,

- uses shot reverse shot in many films to increase tension

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Literary motifs


- Women in film are 'simultaneously looked at and displayed, with their appearance coded for the strong visual and ****** impace so they can be said to connote to-be-looked-at-ness'

- T2H - when camera regards women onscreen, the narrative stops so as to let the adulation proceed unhindered by comment.

-Lydia being dressed/sequences in the bullring, Alicia with breasts out in hosiptal - no conversation takes place.

- Several sequences in the film 'disrupt the structures of looking identified by Mulvey either by having Alicia return the look, or shifting the perspective away from a specific male character.

T2H- in clinic - eyes open, - when Alicia is revealed to be conscious and the camera shifts to a position that doesn't affect Marco's perspective from window.

- asserts Alicia's aliveness, her lack of passivity and her independence of the perspective levelled at her.

Women are central to action - films structure of flashbacks and re-telling of events works with literary allusions of archetypal heroines to create fairytale-like narrative where the women are central rather than peripheral characters.

Each also plays a significant part in shaping the destinies of the male characters - all have influence over men's lives, men may be tellers of story but stories are about the women they encounter. 

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Representations of Men and Women

- Men represented as strong yet feminine - Marco crying at the beginning of the film suring Cafe Muller, gender roles challenged,

- Women presented as strong yet fragile,

- Women presented as heightened/extreme

- 'I believe that women inspire me to write comedies and men, tragedies.'

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Genre and Convention

- Almodovar often delevops narratives that revolve around the lives of women,

the ways in which these narratives play out is often directly connected to the conventions of melodrama:

The broad defining features of melodrama include:

1) The audience can easily follow what is happening, and importantly, how everyone

feels about the events that happened to the main characters.

2) Typically, lead protagonists respond emotionally to events and often experience a

great deal of suffering during the course of the narrative.

3) Information about past events is often brought into the open to develop the

audience’s understanding of the characters. (mimesis/prolepsis)

4) Information about characters and storyline is often communicated through mise en

scène rather than dialogue.

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Sight and Sound July 2002

T2H 'apparently so straight in it's premise of twin heterosexual couples, does continue Almodovar's oblique investigation of queer sexualities.'

Almodovar claimed he was aiming for 'intensity of emotion combined with transparency of style.'

Almodovar references Michael Cunningham's novel 'The Hours' which interweaves mother/son relationships, madness and suicide. 

Almodovar's films have always treated the theme of 'the impossibility of the couple.'

Talk to Her's males are 'narrators of themselves.'

Almodovar intended the musical interludes, silent movies and diversions from the narrative as a 'slap in the face' for the audience.

Visual echoes (prison visit) symmetrical framing (women in glasses - telepathic communication) aesthetic patterning (rooms)

Javier Camara (Benigno) is known for his unsympathetic roles in television drama series and buffoonish parts in big-grossing dumb comedies. 

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'I like to break up time - go back, go forward and tell stories'

'The movie is like a declaration of sadness, of melancholy'

'I wanted to hide what was going on at the clinic... Benigno had become like a freind of mine. I also wanted to express the strength of cinema to hide reality, while being entertaining.'

'There was almost this sense of 2 bodies becoming 1, this is almost a moment of romantic love.

'I believe that women inspire me to write comedies, and men, tragedies.'

'Talk to Her isn't a western, or a film about CIA agents. Nor is it a James Bond film or a period piece.

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