The Human Voice

 This is Almodóvar’s contribution to lockdown. A short 30-minute film about abandonment, loss, depression and anxiety, all told in a monologue by the immaculate, translucently beautiful and elegant Tilda Swinton. Although the film could have been specially created for her, it is in fact based on a Jean Cocteau play, and was the basis of Almodóvar’s earlier film, Women on the verge of a nervous breakdown.

Swinton’s character, an ageing actress, or model, it’s not clear which, has been abandoned by her lover of four years. His bags are packed, and she is waiting for him to pick them up…four days have passed and no word. She is going mad with despair; her lover’s dog is equally distraught as they wait…then the phone rings and it is him.

The film is classic Almodóvar – immaculate sets with splashes of red, orange in her clothes, with various retro furnishings. The apartment is in fact a stage set – we look down into it at various stages, and Swinton flits in and out. Whether this means it is all a fantasy and she is looking down from another place is not clear. Whatever, it is an incredible vehicle for Swinton, whose diction and delivery is pitch perfect, inhabiting the mind and body of a woman scorned. However, it is short and slight and doesn’t quite deliver the complete punch.

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