Talk to Her (Hable con ella) is a 2002 Spanish comedy-drama film by Pedro Almodóvar. It features Marco, a writer and Benigno an orderly, who both struggle with the implications of the women of their lives being stuck in a persistent vegetative states.
The film begins with Marco, an otherwise tough and masculine man being brought to tears while seeing a ballet. Next to him is Benigno a sweet, harmless looking dude who is moved by Marco's reaction. They almost meet, but they don't.
Next we see Benigno back at his job at the clinic, taking care of a very very pretty young girl in a coma, named Alicia. We quickly find out that he is deeply in love with her, and only works at this clinic to be close to her.
We learn that Marco is a sad, sensitive man who pines for a lost love. He is given an assignment to interview a fiery but emotionally damaged woman named Lydia, who happens to be a bull fighter. Although their meeting is initially fraught, the two eventually hit it off and become lovers.
Through a series of flash backs and flash forwards, we learn more about Marco's relationship with Lydia until she is gored by a bull and put in a coma.
As it happens, Lydia and Alicia are in the same clinic and the Benigno remembers Marco from the ballet. Both of them are in the same situation, so they become friends.
Their friendship and Marco's acceptence of Lydia's state is the focus of the film.
This film is an example of the following tropes:
- Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: There's a subplot where Benigno sees a silent movie where a scientist develops a shrinking serum. Her boyfriend drinks it, and then literally CRAWLS INSIDE HER VAGINA FOREVER.
- Author Appeal: Seems like most of Almodovar's movies have Matadors in them. Just sayin'.
- It's a cultural thing.
- The Deconstruction of various sexuality-related themes is a broader example.
- Beastly Bloodsports: Lydia is a bullfighter. Her profession is not questioned, and may even add to her sex appeal.
- Bifauxnen: Lydia, Marco's girlfriend.
- Birth/Death Juxtaposition: Played with. Alicia give birth to a stillborn child, but wakes from her coma (essentially coming back to life) because of it. However, Benigno dies shortly after.
- Bittersweet Ending: Even though Lydia dies, Alicia eventually wakes up and it is strongly imlpied that Marco and Alicia end up together.
- Cloud Cuckoolander: Sheltered Benigno's main reason for being sympathetic is that he doesn't really know any better. His disconnect with reality is so extreme it sends him into Deconstruction territory.
- Convenient Coma: Subverted. Lydia does die from her injuries without waking up, as predicted by the doctor. Alicia does wake up, however.
- Converse with the Unconscious: Benigno urges Marco to do so with Lydia, as he himself regularly does this with Alicia.
- Disappeared Dad: Benigno's father left his family to start fresh in another country.
- Driven to Suicide: Benigno, though he wasn't exactly trying to commit suicide. He wanted to put himself in a coma, to be closer to Alicia.
- Dude, She's Like, in a Coma!: Two, both really in a coma, though strictly speaking only one is a girlfriend.
- Technically, neither of them are.
- Earn Your Happy Ending: Alicia was in a coma for a long time, was raped by someone meant to take care of her and was only awakened by the birth of her stillborn child. Meanwhile, Marco loses a lover as well as a friend, and there's nothing he can do about it. Fortunately, each has a Maybe Ever After in the other.
- Fan Disservice: The sensual massage Benigno gives Alicia reeks of this despite her beautiful body, especially as it becomes clear he's about to rape her.
- Film Within a Film: "Amante Menguante" — the black and white silent movie sequence. Silent film hero Alfredo takes a potion and becomes so small that he ends up wandering around on the body of the sleeping Amparo. He goes for a walk on her breasts and even climbs inside her vagina, his attentions giving her sweet, sexual dreams.
- Foreshadowing: The doctor informs Marco that miracle awakenings from comas are possible, citing a patient who fell into a coma for years after giving birth. Pregnancy will become key to getting Alicia out of her coma, too.
- Innocent Fanservice Girl: Even though Alicia is unconscious for almost the whole movie, she is presented in a notably erotic and/or sensual fashon, with several nude scenes. She sensually half-smiles through most of them.
- Ironic Name: Benigno's name is Spanish for harmless, or benign, and is even referenced in one scene when he says to Alicia, "Don't worry. I'm harmless". It seems to fit him perfectly, until he rapes Alicia.
- The Lad-ette: Alicia's father's secretary is quite coarse and rude and isn't shy about announcing that she just took a dump.
- Manly Tears: Marco sheds them quite often during the film.
- Maybe Ever After: The film ends with the surviving leads smiling at each other at the theater, with "Marco y Alicia" displayed on screen, as happened with the other couples.
- MayDecember Romance: Lydia notes that Marco's ex is much younger than he is. In the end, it's implied that the fortysomething Marco will get together with Alicia, who's in her twenties.
- Meaningful Name: Lampshaded with Lydia, which is similar to the Spanish "lidia." For those who don't know Spanish and can't wait for google translate to load, lidia means bullfight. Lydia is a bullfighter.
- Men Don't Cry: Averted, in a way that manages to make the man crying much more sympathetic.
- Missing Mom: In a flashback, Alicia mentions to Benigno that her mother died a long time ago.
- Mistaken for Gay: Toyed around with (in the dramatic sense) in relation to Benigno, likely exposing the viewer's initial assumptions about the character in the process.
- Momma's Boy: Benigno took care of his mother for practically his whole life, which helps make Alicia's father suspect that he's gay.
- Moral Dissonance: Subverted. Only Almadovar could make Benigno such a sweet lovable guy regardless of what he does.
- No Periods, Period: Averted. Alicia begins missing her period, which makes the doctors realize she's pregnant.
- Old Flame: Lydia had a tempestuous relationship with another matador, which was all over the tabloids. Marco discovers that she was intending to return to him, which she never got a chance to tell him.
- Parental Substitute: As Alicia's mother passed away a long time ago, her dance teacher acts as her mother figure and spoils her in and out of the hospital.
- Rape Portrayed as Redemption: It's implied that the main reason that Alicia wakes up is the birth of her stillborn child.
- Rule of Drama: A lot of key things in the plot would only happen the movies. Alicia waking up due to her pregnancy for example.
- Stalker with a Crush: Benigno's interaction with Alicia before she falls into a coma. He watches her dance practice from his apartment, follows her home, and books an appointment with her psychiatrist father just as an excuse to see her.
- The Stoic: Subverted with Marco. He ends up having a lot to cry about. And he does.
- Title Drop: Benigno, giving advice to Marco.
- What the Hell, Hero?: Benigno has a moment like this with the clinic staff.