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Columbia TriStar Home Video presents
Talk to Her (Hable con ella) (2002)

"You have to pay attention to women, talk to them...be thoughtful occasionally. Caress them. Remember they exist, they're alive and they matter to us."
- Benigno Martin (Javier Cámara)

Review By: Jeff Rosado  
Published: September 04, 2003

Stars: Javier Cámara, Darío Grandinetti, Leonor Watling, Rosario Flores, Geraldine Chaplin
Other Stars: Moriola Fuentes, Fele Martinez, Roberto Álvarez, Helio Pedregal, Beatriz Santiago, Chus Lampreave, Lola Dueñas, Elena Anaya, Adolfo Fernández, Carmen Machi
Director: Pedro Almodóvar

Manufacturer: DVDL
MPAA Rating: R for nudity, adult language, sexual situations
Release Date: May 27, 2003
UPC: 043396089167
Genre: foreign


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A+ AA+A A-

DVD Review

It's rare when a film grabs you from the opening frame to a final dip to black, but that's precisely what Talk To Her (Hable con ella) did to me.

As the curtain lifts (literally) on our story, the faces of two men watching a performance piece in a theater are revealed. Judging by outward appearances, they couldn't be more different: Marco (Darío Grandinetti) is a teary-eyed, intensely emotional type later revealed to be a journalist. Sitting alongside watching with muted bemusement is Benigno (Javier Cámara), a intensely devoted male nurse who cares for comatose patients. Eerily similar circumstances will bond these two strangers in time.

Months prior, Marco became intrigued with Lydia (Rosario Flores), a lady bullfighter he noticed on a tabloid talk show one evening while switching channels. By way of connections, he approaches the matador-ess in search of an interview. Understandably gun-shy giving her past media dealings (especially in light of her recent breakup with a male bullfighter), Lydia wants nothing to do with the balding, middle aged writer. But in what will be the first in many moments of fate, Marco's disposal of an unwanted intruder in her home proves to be an ice-breaker.

Paralleling this story is Benigno's fascination with Alicia (Leonor Watlin), a beautiful dance student who practices across the street from his apartment building, from where he's been eyeing her. Unable to muster courage to contact her conventionally, a fallen wallet opens up the door of communication, and although the conversation is brief but upbeat, Benigno's intrigued enough to learn more about Alicia. But before the two can meet again under normal circumstances, tragedy strikes when she steps into the path of an oncoming car, and suffers injuries that send her into a coma. However, the relationship doesn't end on his part. Thanks to favorable impressions made upon her father in times previous, Benigno's assigned as one of her primary caregivers at the hospital where he's employed.

Some time later while going through his nursing rituals in her room, a familiar face peeks through the door. Recognizing each other from their initial encounter at the theater, the two men meet as Benigno learns he has a partner in sorrow, for mere seconds into her last performance in the ring, Lydia was gored by a vicious bull that's left her in the same vegetative state as Alicia. Despite drastically different outlooks on their individual plights, the two men form a strange yet heartfelt bond that will prove emotionally vital to Benigno when the male nurse is accused of an unspeakable act.

Despite all the critical hoopla showered on Talk To Her, advance accolades did not prepare me for it's impact, particularly given my lukewarm opinion of Almodóvar's previous work, the similarly praised All About My Mother. Everything that film got wrong, this follow-up gets right. From moments of poetic, emotional drama to its striking use of a chronologically mixed narrative, ever lurking revelations and surprising bursts of humor (highlighted by a brilliant silent-era movie spoof that culminates with quite a climax), Talk is by far the Spanish director's best movie to date, filled with riveting, flawless performances from the four leads.

Rating for Style: A+
Rating for Substance: A

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio2.35:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: Excelente! With nary a nick or discrepancy to be found on this (thankfully dual layer) disc, everything from Javier Aguirresarobe's color-rich cinematography to Frederico G. Cambero's beautiful set designs are reproduced with such razor sharp clarity, I had to take a second look at the packaging to make sure this wasn't one of the company's super-bit jobs. Excellent in every sense of the word.

Image Transfer Grade: A+

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital
5.1
Spanish, Frenchyes


Audio Transfer Review: Since Albert Iglesias' haunting score acts is so vital to helping convey the mood of the characters, it should comes as no surprise that the Dolby Digital mix most certainly measures up to the quality set forth by the video. Although it lacks just a pinch less in high end for my tastes, the rich, room filling track more than makes up for that slightest of shortcomings. Dialogue is completely natural and the soundstage from front to back is even and brilliantly rendered. Also, there are a couple of jolting, clever uses of the subwoofer frequency during two key scenes that will leave you as unsettled as the principal involved.

Audio Transfer Grade: A

 

Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 28 cues
Subtitles/Captions in English, French with remote access
8 Other Trailer(s) featuring The Son of the Bride, Love Liza, Nine Queens, Adaptation, The Devil's Backbone, All About My Mother, Mad Love, Punch-Drunk Love
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Director Pedro Almodóvar, Geraldine Chaplin
Weblink/DVD-ROM Material
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual
Layers Switch: 01h:16m:41s

Extras Review: In addition to a larger than usual assortment of trailers promoting many of Columbia's recent art-house offerings, the disc's big bonus is the companion commentary track teaming Almodóvar and Chaplin. Now, at first I must admit I was a little disappointed when the track turned out to be in the director's native tongue. But thanks to the subtitling and his disarming, chatterbox approach to his latest cinematic child, it turns out to be enormously entertaining. Unceasingly informative to a fault, many interesting backstage footnotes are unearthed including how yoga training helped enhance the female leads' abilities to play coma-plagued individuals, the many hidden subtle plot points not so obvious on first viewing, and Chaplin's surprise that Almodóvar's mid-film homage to the early days of cinema was an original piece and not a breathtaking restoration.

Perhaps the most telling moment of the conversation comes toward the end when the two recall doing publicity for the film and encountering more than one individual unable to speak when the house lights came up, which is precisely the same reaction I had after watching the film for the first time. So don't be surprised if you need some quiet time for reflection as well when the DVD menu resurfaces at the end; it's a powerful movie in that aspect.

Extras Grade: A-

 

Final Comments

A truly remarkable, emotionally resonant film, Talk To Her (Hable con ella) is a striking work of art that resonates long after the credits fade. Combined with a terrific, impassioned (subtitled) commentary that succeeds in spite of the language barrier, perfect visuals and sublime audio, the Columbia TriStar disc gets my vote for one of the best DVDs of 2003.

 


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