Talk to Her (Pedro Almodovar, Spain, 2002)
Almodovar has become known with the way that he handles female characters in his film but Talk to Her is almost in reverse as in it focuses on male characters and their interactions in similar circumstances. Marco (Dario Grandinetti) is a writer whose matador girlfriend ends up in a coma. Benigno (Javier Camara) is a male nurse looking after a patient who has been in a coma for a while. The two men bond over their similar circumstances and the ability to care for those women in their lives that are helpless. While that is a fairly simple review, Almodovar throws many more themes and surreal experiences that give the film so much more meaning. One one level, it's about these men coming to terms with tragic circumstances but there's a deeper underlying darkness to it, especially in Benigno's relationship. He has no real ties to the woman he's looking after other than being her nurse but he wraps himself so tightly in her life, there's a feeling of uneasiness about his relationship. That foreboding notion shows itself by the end, where the sympathy earned by Benigno in his actions earlier in the film comes crashing down in a jarring end. That Marco comes to Benigno after attempting to find an explanation shows a lot about the bond the two created earlier in the film. Talk to Her really is a fairly simple film in its execution but Almodovar creates a complete film universe with a caring storyline. He never quite loses his more surreal tendencies, as a silent vignette bawdily shows, but there's no denying how emotionally powerful the film is, despite how poorly I've described it. That Benigno, who does something truly unforgivable, and yet, you feel just as sorry for him as you feel outrage, is a testament to how strong a story Almodovar has wound. Talk to Her has been one of the films over the past few years that has always stayed with me as being a near perfectly constructed film, not just in story and characters but in emotion.