Story by Jack Foley
Pedro Almodovar - extracts from a self interview
Q: From now on, well have to say that as well as being a good director
of actresses, you are also a good director of male actors. The leading characters
in Talk To Her are two men and the actors who play them are splendid
A: Im delighted its you whos said that. Yes, Javier Camara and Dario Grandinetti are superb in very complicated roles. In any case, Talk To Her isnt my first film with male leads. Live Flesh is a testicular story. Matador and The Laws of Desire were also stories in which men determined the action. In The Laws of Desire, even the girl (Carmen Maura) was a man.
Q: When it comes to working, which do you find more enjoyable, actors
A: When theyre wonderful and can make me forget that Im the director and the writer, I enjoy both equally and very much. Over the course of 14 feature films, I admit that Ive found more good actresses than good actors, but its also true that Ive written more female roles than male or neutral roles.
Q: Thats obvious
A: In another field, that of writing, and as a general rule, I believe that women inspire me to write comedies, and men, tragedies.
Q: To what genre does Talk To Her belong?
A: I dont know. All I know is that it isnt a western, or a film about CIA agents. Nor is it a James Bond film or a period piece
Q: It does have an element of that
A: Thats true, seven minutes to be precise, which takes place in 1924.
Q: Those seven minutes are giving rise to a lot of talk
A: Even though theyre silent In the middle of the film, the nurse, Benigno (Javier Camara) uses one of his few free nights to go to the Cinematheque to see a silent Spanish film: Amante Menguante (Shrinking Lover). I show about seven minutes of that film.
Q: Isnt it a bit risky to interrupt the general narrative with a
very different piece, or is it a flashback involving the same character?
A: No, it isnt a flashback, its a separate story and, yes, its risky, very risky.
Q: Arent you afraid the spectator will be confused, or lose his
A: Now that Ive finished it, no, but while I was filming it, I was terrified. I couldnt sleep until I had the two stories edited together. The part that runs from when Javier goes to the Cinematheque until he finishes telling the film to the recumbent, remote Alicia (about 10-minutes running time) is one of my favourites.
Q: Whats the reason for this detour from the central
A: It only seems like a detour, because the nurses story doesnt actually stop during those seven minutes, rather it overlaps and merges with that of Shrinking Lover. In any case, the original reason (when I was working on the script) was so that I could use the silent film as a front.
Q: To hide what?
A: What is really happening in Alicias room. I dont want to show it to the spectator and I invented Shrinking Lover as a kind of blindfold. In any case, the spectator will discover what has happened at the same time as the other characters. Its a secret which Id like no one to reveal!
Q: Thats called manipulation
A: Its a narrative option, and not exactly a simple one. Thats why Im so proud of the result.
Q: When the psychiatrist asks Benigno what his problem is, he replies:
"Loneliness, I guess."
A: Marco (Grandinetti) also tells the two women in the film on two very different occasions that hes lonely. In both cases, neither Benigno nor Marco gets melodramatic about it, theyre simply stating a fact.
Loneliness is something which all the characters in the film have in common. Alicia and Lydia are lonely too. And Katerina, the ballet mistress. And Alicias father, although its likely that after a while hell have an affair with the receptionist in his consultancy.
And the nurse played by Mariola Fuentes, secretly in love with her fellow worker, Benigno. And the housekeeper in Benignos building. Even the only unpleasant character, the despicable interviewer played by Loles Leon, ends up alone on the set, talking to the camera, because Lydia (quite rightly) has stormed off in the middle of the interview.
And the bull is left alone in the huge ring when Lydia is taken to the infirmary, fatally injured Loneliness, I guess is another possible title for this film.
Q: In a self interview, a genre with which you are familiar, how does
the loneliness affect you? What do you feel at the absence of an interlocutor
A: I dont feel contempt for anything, not even for things I hate. The reason I interview myself is for practical rather than endogamic reasons. I say what I want to say and in the fastest way possible. In any case, a self interview is a written piece and writing is always done in solitude.
Have you ever realised that you were talking to yourself? I mean in your life,
without whatever you say necessarily appearing in print?
A: Yes. A few months ago. I caught myself doing it on several days. I did it either in the morning, when Id just got up, or at night. (Ive been told that Bunuel also talked to himself in the morning, to check on how his deafness was progressing).
I was doing it to check the sound and power of my voice. I lost my voice during the shoot and for a few weeks when I got up after the long, nocturnal silence, Id talk to myself in bed or in front of the mirror. "Hows my voice today?", Id ask myself. "Much better. If I dont force it, I may make it through to the evening." Ive always believed in words, even when youve got no voice or no one to talk to.
Q: Is that the message in Talk To Her?
A: As in any film, the message is Go see it. Then, in a subliminal way, and tell your friends about it.
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