Twitter Plot Summary: Two men form a bond whilst looking after two women who are in comas.
Director: Pedro Almodovar
Key Cast: Javier Camara, Dario Grndinetti, Rosario Flores, Geraldine Chaplin, Roberto Alvarez, Elena Anaya, Lola Duenas, Geraldine Chaplin
Five Point Summary:
1. Lamest snake attack ever.
2. It’s all crumbling…
3. Oh my. That’s erm… that’s quite graphic. And surreal.
4. He was never going to get away with that, was he?
5. Aaaaand… full circle.
Marco’s a bit of an emotional type. He cries at the ballet yet is still capable of manly things like stomping on the head of a snake. Because that’s the sort of thing that happens in Spain, don’t you know. He meets a woman who’s a matador (ironic given that she’s afraid of snakes) and they begin a relationship. Then after an accident leaves her in a coma, Marco strikes up a friendship with Benigno, a nurse at the hospital. He’s looking after another woman who’s in a coma and is responsible for bathing her and so on. As the story develops there are revelations that have an effect on both of their lives – to go into detail would spoil much of the film and defeat the point of watching it.
Without delving into spoilers, whilst Marco is the outwardly emotional one, Benigno keeps everything bottled up. Well, comparatively speaking. Their personalities meet somewhere in the middle so, to an extent, they complement each other and essentially form a relationship in the phsyical and emotional absence of women in their lives. The bromance between Marco and Benigno is deftly done, and it’s easy to see why those characters so easily become friends. Despite their differences they form a super glue-esque bond that remains solid despite the events that transpire. The script is set up to slowly dripfeed the audience with information, cutting back and forth between the present and each character’s past. It’s effective in not showing its hand until you reach the finale, and subsequently no surprise that it won an Oscar for best screenplay.
What I enjoyed the most was the differences between these two male characters. Marco’s much more open with his emotions compared to Benigno, whereas Benigno has deep feelings for Alicia, the woman in a coma who he is caring for, yet rarely explicitly displays that emotion. Ultimately there are revelations for both men, either from them or regarding them, that push us towards the resolution of the film. There’s also a nice use of silent film to demonstrate character’s feelings, and whilst they are essentially fantasy sequences they don’t disturb the realistic tone set by the “real world” portions of the story. Depth is provided by Geraldine Chaplin as the ballet instructor of Benigno’s comatose patient. She dips in and out of the story
IMDB lists “comedy” amongst the genre tags for the film, which I’m not sure I agree with. Okay, so the silent film sections are intended to be humorous, but otherwise it’s quite a serious affair. It’s more drama than comedy, so like all good dramas it has some funny elements, but it’s certainly not comedy in a specific sense. Either that or I completely misjudged the tone of the film – it wouldn’t be the first time this has happened. There are weighty themes involved, so I don’t think I’ve misunderstood it that badly. In any case, I enjoyed it – there’s nary a dull moment and despite some really minor misgivings about where the plot ultimately leads I thought the story to be consistent and grounded in reality.
Favourite scene: Marco having to kill the snake. Establishes both his and Lydia’s personality quite succinctly.
Quote: ” Nothing is simple. I’m a ballet mistress, and nothing is simple.”
Silly moment: When he enters the giant lady part…