‘The Human Voice’ Review: A Little Treat from Almodóvar

Coronavirus has made it difficult to mount large productions. Some directors, however, love their craft too much to down tools for the year and have instead used the break as an opportunity to make smaller, more experimental films. One such director is Pedro Almodóvar who has delivered a short but intense character study.

A woman (Tilda Swinton) purchases an axe and then returns to her home to wreak havoc on a men’s suit. She then takes too many pills and has a conversation with the owner of the suit, her former lover. She hopes to gain some catharsis from the breakup but it’s clear that he’s already put her behind him. She will have to find some other way to find closure.

Pedro Almodóvar adapts the short play by Jean Cocteau and does effectively render the clearly single room drama into a much larger and cinematic work. His staging and creative use of space make this an experience entirely unique from the theatre without losing the intimacy and immediacy of the drama. Although lacking his usual sense of scale, Almodóvar still manages to a make a film about nostalgia and time that feels authentic and modern. Though the film is not without it’s sense of humour and makes gorgeous use of his eccentric colour palette.

Filmed stage plays tend to be performance driven and although Almodóvar’s imagery is creative, it’s Tilda Swinton in the film’s only role who really brings the film to life with her authentic and moving performance.  This is about all you can hope for from a short film directed by one of the finest directors working today.

Four Stars

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