(1) Discuss why “Talk to Her” could be considered a post-modernist narrative. What common postmodernist themes / characteristics can you point out? (Irony? Black humor? Unusual and broken narrative? Pastiche of genres? Anything else?)
(2) Almodovar sees “Talk to Her” as a film about “narration” or “a celebration of narration in itself.” Discuss the unconventional (verbal and nonverbal) modes of storytelling employed in the film (think of dance, song, bullfighting, travel guides, photographs, silent film as various forms of storytelling). How does the film’s disjointed timeline, seemingly disconnected sequences, and shifting point-of-views contribute to the storytelling process?
(3) Discuss the character of Benigno. Some critics have argued that – although this character commits a morally heinous crime – his deed never strikes the viewer with the force that it deserves because the director aesthetically mutes its impact. Discuss how Almodovar presents this character’s “duality” (consider Benigno’s consistently kindly demeanor, his seeming integrity, genuineness and authenticity; the displacement of brutality and violence (rape) onto an ostensibly comic silent film; etc.) Does the director, in fact, invite the audience to embrace an improper moral attitude (feel sorry for the rapist)?
(4) Why is the film titled Talk to Her? How does the film address the theme of speaking, silence, and communication? What is the role of the silent film within the film?
and write two short peer reviews about those:
“1. Talk to her is post modern because of the use of irony and black humor. There is a mix of genre present within the film that also shows the postmodernism. There is also no meaning to the actions of the film, which again sets it in postmodern since modern finds meaning.
2. The film used interesting ways to narrate the story. Silent film was a big one that was used to show unspoken thoughts of Benigno specifically. He had a connection to these films and they were used to “speak” his thoughts without saying anything. Dancing and bullfighting also showed narration through movements and foreshadowed future events. The film starts with the musical and shows the two women dancing that had their eyes closed and were unresponsive to their surroundings. This was a narration for Alicia and Lydia being in comas. The movements in dance and bullfighting tell about Alicia and Lydia as people. Alicia and dancing shows her elegance and love for arts, while Lydia having the profession of bullfighting shows her as a strong independent women. The disjointed timeline in the movie helps give context for the characters. Without this you wouldn’t know how they meet, or reasons for why they are currently in the hospital 24/7.
3. I do not like the character Benigno. I found him very creepy the entire film. He was a stalker for Alicia prior to her car accident, which made matters worse. I personally do not think myself as an audience member would ignore his actions because they are not normal and should have been stopped. For someone else watching they may overlook his actions because aside from being a stalker, Benigno appears to be a well rounded guy. He spent 15 years taking care of his mother, and even did school to make his duties more meaningful and useful. To someone from the outside he is a nice man who is good at his job nursing and really cares for people. Him having this genuine caring quality could be why people feel his actions were not taken seriously and you feel sorry for him.
4. The film has the title Talk to her because it is ironic. Neither of these men can actually speak to these women and receive a response, but they still have things to say. Benigno even tells Marco at one point while he is explaining his story with Alicia that he should talk to Lydia even though her brain isn’t functioning normally. Speaking silence and communication are shown through film and dance. There is a lot of places where silent films are used to describe the similar situation mostly with Benigno. The silent films and dancing are his connection to Alicia because that is what she enjoyed doing before she was in a coma. He got into these things afterwards to relate to her and to have things to talk to her about. “
- Talk to Her has several aspects of postmodernism. Firstly, it blends many different genres. There are components of thriller, romance, noir, comedy, and melodrama in the film. The color scheme is black and white, which gives it another postmodern feel. Also, the film does not try to conceal the chaos and tragedy that occurs in real life. For example, it shows Benigno’s lover’s comatose condition and that instances like this are insurmountable.
- Dancing is used a lot in this film as a form of communication. The dancers dance around each other without really looking at each other. I think this shows that people are not completely invested in communication and how simple miscommunication is. Music is one of the most universally used forms of non-spoken communication in films. Often times, the songs playing in the background of scenes relate to the tone of that specific scene. In Talk to Her, a love song with a sad tone is playing during one of the bullfights. Bullfighting also is used as a form of communication with a deeper meaning. The bullfighter and bull seem to communicate through the waved pieces of cloth. The symbolism behind this, though, is that the costumes of the bullfighters represent their class/status, so it communicates to the audience who has a “higher rank.” I think the disjointed timeline add to the postmodern feel of the movie and overall has a significant impact on the audience.
- Although Benigno commits a horrible crime, he is shown as a kind and caring nurse. However, I don’t think Almodovar was trying to lessen the severity of the crime. If anything, it might symbolize that even if someone seems like a great person on the outside, they could still be an awful person when no one is around to see their true behaviors. It just shows that not everyone is how they always seem.
- I think it has this title because different modes of communication are so important to the narrative of this film. Also, it is kind of a paradox because Benigno can talk to her, but she can’t communicate back to him due to being in a comatose state. In the film, there are also great disparities between how certain characters speak to men and women. This may be another reason for the title. For example, Marco is able to easily speak to a male, but he is insufficient when trying to speak to a female. Silent films are evident in Talk to Her when Benigno tells the story of a silent film as a way to try to save himself from being seen as a rapist.”