The Human Voice, a Film by Pedro Almodóva

Tilda Swinton in the Human Voice

The Human Voice is Almodóva’s  first film in English.   Inspired by Jean Cocteau and Roberto Rossellini, it is visually surrreal and audibly very real.   Almodóva’s attention to detail is masterful and brings us into this magic area of suspended reality.  What is and what isn’t real?
It seems that the constraints brought about by the Covid induced time frame, have released many ideas from his past films, which are condensed into a story of a woman who has been left by the man she loves, and who is attempting to live through it.  The Human Voice, starring Tilda Swinton is  Almodóva’s  first film in English.  In a Mark Kermode led discussion afterwards, it was interesting to hear how Almodóva directed Tilda Swinton –  word by word – as he has directed all actors in his previous films.   He spoke the words in Spanish to Tilda Swinton so that she could hear and feel the meaning (intonation) behind them – and the results in English satisfied him.  You don’t have to speak a language in order to hear the meaning behind the words and Tilda Swinton doesn’t speak Spanish, but if you see this film, you will understand what a vocal artist she truly is.   Almodóva and Swinton both agree that they communicate and share the language of cinematography.  It is a wonderful 30 minutes and the sensation I felt at the end was one of resolution and completion. The Production designer Antxon Gómez and costume designer Sonia Grande make the set within a set spectacular in its design, allowing the colours, accessories and furnishings to be part of the cast along with Dash the dog – another great actor.
Frances Parkes

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