Hable Con Ella (Talk to Her) (2002)

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Released 22-Sep-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Theatrical Trailer-2.35:1, 16x9 enhanced, Dolby Digital 2.0 (1:22)
TV Spots-2.35:1, 16x9 enhanced, Dolby Digital 2.0 (0:21)
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2002
Running Time 109:01
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Pedro Almodovar
Studio
Distributor

Twentieth Century Fox
Starring Javier Camara
Dario Grandinetti
Leonor Watling
Rosario Flores
Case ?
RPI $36.95 Music Alberto Iglesias


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, during credits

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    The second DVD from the World Cinema Collection from Fox Home Entertainment through my player involves an infinitely more well known director - Pedro Almodovar. Not that I have seen any of his films though - it is just that he is a well known director in comparison to Gabriele Muccino.

    Hable Con Ella is currently ranked in the Internet Movie Database Top 250 at 128. Not bad for a film that I have never heard of before! However, the reason for asking for the DVD for review was simply to experience something different in film. And I have to say that this is certainly something different in film, especially as it starts out a little on the unusual side and continues at something of a leisurely pace - not something that I really enjoy in films, but this one is sure worth the effort.

    Part of the intrigue of the film is the story itself and this is definitely one where the plot synopsis is going to be rather enigmatic and less than illuminating, otherwise the trap of divulging far too much is very easily fallen into. To truly appreciate this film needs a degree of ignorance of the film to begin with, so that you can truly appreciate the way the story develops. The story has two focal points. One is Benigno Martin (Javier Camara), a male nurse who for the past four years has been tending to coma victim Alicia Roncero (Leonor Watling). The other is journalist Marco Zuloaga (Dario Grandinetti) who, after seeing a television interview with bullfighter Lydia Gonzalez (Rosario Flores), decides to do a profile piece on her for the newspaper. Marco's original interest in Lydia is sidetracked as he falls for her - or at least as much as he can with the emotional baggage he is carrying. His world is turned upside down when Lydia suffers an accident. Benigno, on the other hand, always was turned upside down as he was originally drawn to Alicia before her accident, since he used to see her at the dance studio across the street from his house. The lives of Benigno and Marco intersect at the hospital where Alicia and Lydia end up. They become friends under unusual circumstances but their lives are not going to get any easier.

    Almodovar provides a rather intriguing look at what love is all about. The worldly Marco and the introverted Benigno obviously draw upon different experiences, yet which embodies the true nature of love? This really is a beautifully crafted tale that weaves between the main characters rather easily as it takes us on the journey that Pedro Almodovar wants to take us on. We go willingly along for that ride, to a large extent blissfully unaware of where that journey will go - and the twists that it will take. In this instance everything starts with that beautifully crafted story, an Oscar winner no less, but it takes some wonderful performances to really bring the whole story to genuine life. Javier Camara is really terrific as the somewhat child-like Benigno and produces a wonderful mix of naivety and sagacity that is really very engaging. Dario Grandinetti, on the other hand, infuses Marco with a degree of worldly pessimism that very effectively counterpoints the more optimistic tone of Benigno. How their relationship develops over the course of the film is most interesting, especially the degree of transformation that comes over Benigno. Leonor Watling has about the most difficult role to play in the film - a comatose patient doing nothing, often whilst naked or semi-naked. It cannot be easy to play this sort of role, yet once you get past the blatant sexuality of the performance infused by others, you realise at no stage did you not believe the performance. Very good stuff. Rosario Flores does a good job as the bullfighter but is easily the least effective role amongst the main characters - though this hardly affects the film much, as hers is the smallest of the four lead roles. Beautifully shot, this really does encourage me to check out Pedro Almodovar's earlier, also Oscar winning, film Todo Sobre Mi Madre.

    This is not the sort of film that I would generally find much to enthuse about, and at times I do wonder what the point of some of the stuff is. But if you open your mind to the journey that Pedro Almodovar is taking you on, the rewards become very clear as the film progresses to its rather unexpected conclusion. A wonderful inclusion in the World Cinema Collection and a DVD that I heartily recommend you check out. Just make sure that you open your mind to the journey before you start.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    After L'Ultimo bacio I really was not expecting to be as impressed with a transfer quite so much, quite so soon. So maybe I was going into this expecting to be unimpressed - which makes the fact that I enjoyed this transfer almost as much as L'Ultimo bacio indicative of the fact that this is again an excellent transfer in virtually every respect. Indeed, it is so impressive that my entire notes for the review session comprise five lines!

    This transfer is again presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and it is of course 16x9 enhanced.

    It was thirty minutes into the film before I actually made any notation regarding even a relatively minor flaw in the transfer. By that time I had already noted that this was really a very very nice transfer. The transfer is very sharp throughout, although with nothing really approaching overt edge enhancement, and offers some really gorgeous detail. Clarity is absolutely crystal clear and there is not a smidgen of grain to be found in this transfer. Shadow detail is superb throughout, although there really are not that many places where it would have been much of an issue anyway. Wonderful, wonderful stuff.

    The colours here are beautifully rendered and again the transfer is stunningly vibrant. Even though there are shots where the natural colour is very dusty, being a hot Spanish summer, the effect is still superb looking. The transfer really is a truly natural looking effort. There is no indication of anything approaching oversaturation and colour bleed is also not to be found in the transfer. Black levels are very good and the only time that I really could complain about a lack of tonal depth was in shots where there was supposed to be a lack of that depth!

    There is no obvious indication of any MPEG artefacts in the transfer. Now we get to the five instances of issues I had with the transfer: some extremely minor aliasing in the bow at 30:38, some rather modest moiré artefacting in the Venetian blinds at 56:35, some very, very minor aliasing in the building at 58:17, some modest aliasing in the rugs at 66:58 and some aliasing in the car at 76:19. That is it - the extent of the obvious film-to-video artefacts in the transfer. I don't recall any film artefacts in the transfer at all, which would not surprise since this is a recent transfer, so if there any any in the transfer, they obviously are not that noticeable.

    This is a single sided, single layered DVD, although the label indicates otherwise.

    The only subtitle option on the DVD is an English for the Hearing Impaired effort that is actually not too bad at all. The translation seems to be a more natural effort, that conveys the meaning of the film very well indeed.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    There is just the one soundtrack on the DVD, being a Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack.

    Obviously this is a dialogue driven film, therefore it is rather important that the dialogue is well handled. It is, being very easy to understand in the overall soundtrack. There are no problems with audio sync in the soundtrack.

    The original score comes from Alberto Iglesias, and it is another excellent effort. A little more obvious than that afforded L'Ultimo bacio but equally as important to the film. Indeed, according to reviews of the Region 1 DVD the commentary makes special mention of the importance of the music in setting and maintaining the tone of the film. It certainly does that well.

    The soundtrack is another quite excellent effort too, although once again it hardly makes the most dynamic use of the six channels that you will ever hear. There really is not that much in the way of surround use here, but then again the film really does not need that much. However, when it does come into play it does so in a subtle, wonderful way that really fleshes out a wonderfully open sounding effort that does the film all the justice it deserves. Not quite as demonstration worthy as L'Ultimo bacio but not too far short of it either. There is little overt low frequency channel use, but that does not worry the film at all and certainly does not bother the soundtrack either: the film does not need much in the way of low frequency channel use.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    A very disappointing package of extras is provided on the DVD, which leaves something of a bitter aftertaste after the general excellence that has gone before.

Menu

    Appallingly functional in style (the same as those employed in Fox Home Entertainment's recent releases of War classics) and really out of character with the film.

Theatrical Trailer (1:22)

    Presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, it is 16x9 enhanced and comes with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound (in Spanish with English subtitles). Excellent quality throughout as we would expect from so recent an effort.

TV Spot (0:21)

    Very similar in every respect to the theatrical trailer, with which it shares the same presentation.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 1 release differs from the Region 4 release in having an audio commentary involving director Pedro Almodovar and actress Geraldine Chaplin. It is by all accounts an excellent effort too, even though in Spanish with English subtitles. The Region 1 release also features some additional trailers (but not one for the film itself) and an additional French dub in Dolby Digital 5.1 sound. Given a similar high quality in the audio and video transfers, it would seem to be the version of choice. Unfortunately, I could not find an English language review for any of the myriad of Region 2 releases, but from my pitiful attempts at various European languages it would appear that aside from differences in language soundtracks, the DVDs are similarly speced.

Summary

    Whilst perhaps not quite agreeing with the film's relatively lofty position in the Internet Movie Database Top 250, I certainly would agree that this is a very good film in all respects. As a beautiful reminder that Hollywood cannot make truly great films any more, this is priceless. Two DVDs into the World Cinema Collection and I have two highly recommended DVDs.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ian Morris (Biological imperfection run amok)
Thursday, August 21, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDDenon DVD-1600, using S-Video output
DisplaySony Trinitron Wega (80cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationYamaha RXV-795
SpeakersEnergy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right C-2; rears EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL

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Comments (Add)
You shouild definitely check out "All About My Mother" - sprockets
Subtitles - David