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Almodovar, P. Lichtenstein, D. (2005). Hable con ella [Talk to her]. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 86(3):905-914.

(2005). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 86(3):905-914

Hable con ella [Talk to her]

Review by:
Director Pedro Almodovar

David Lichtenstein

Alicia lies unconscious in a hospital bed in a persistent vegetative state, a coma, the result of a car accident. She is naked, vulnerable and supremely unreachable. Benigno, her male nurse, talks with Marco, a journalist and new friend. They are linked by the fact that Marco's lover, Lydia, a famous and daring woman matador, is also lying in a coma in the same hospital, having been gored in the bullring. Benigno, the nurse, having more experience in the matter, explains to Marco how a man takes care of a woman in this extreme state: ‘Talk to her’, he advises. ‘Remember, they exist, they're alive, and they're important to us … You have to pay attention to women.’

When Marco protests that Lydia's brain is dead, and that it therefore makes no sense to talk to her, Benigno replies matter-of-factly that, since a woman's brain is a mystery to men in any case, a coma merely makes it all the more so. This is Benigno's position: a helpless, comatose woman is a woman he can love. The theme of this film is thus defined: what are we to do, men and women alike, with the erotic fascination generated by extreme helplessness, and especially by a helpless woman?

Actually, this benign Benigno has lived his entire life as a sheltered soul who, before he was hired to care for Alicia, cared for his lonely bedridden mother to the extent that he never left the house. Effeminate in manner, Benigno has known no intimate relationship other than that with his infirm mother, before the comatose Alicia.

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