The Human Voice by Pedro Almodóvar
The Human Voice by Pedro Almodóvar

Pedro Almodóvar’s English-language debut, the short film “The Human Voice” starring Tilda Swinton will open in theaters in New York, Miami and Los Angeles on March 12, 2021. It will be accompanied by a digitally restored re-issue of Almodóvar’s classic “Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown”.

“The Human Voice” screened at the 2020 Venice, New York and BFI London Film Festivals, and is eligible in the Best Live Action Short Film category for the 93rd Oscars to be presented in April 2021.

In the film Tilda Swinton plays a woman watching time passing next to the suitcases of her ex-lover (who is supposed to come pick them up, but never arrives) and a restless dog who doesn’t understand that his master has abandoned him. Two living beings facing abandonment. During the three days of waiting, the woman only goes out to the street once, to buy an axe and a can of gasoline.

The woman goes through all sorts of moods, from helplessness to despair and loss of control. She makes herself up, she dresses up as if going to a party, she considers throwing herself off of the balcony, until her ex-lover calls on the phone, but she’s unconscious because she’s taken a combination of thirteen pills and cannot answer the call. The dog licks her face until she wakes up. After a cold shower, revived by a coffee as black as her state of mind, the telephone rings again and this time she can answer.

The human voice is hers, we never hear the voice of her lover. At first she pretends to act normal and calm, but she is always on the verge of exploding in the face of the man’s hypocrisy and meanness. “The Human Voice” is a moral lesson about desire, even though its protagonist is on the verge of the very same abyss. Risk is an essential part of the adventure of living and loving. Pain is very present in the monologue. As I said at first, it is about the disorientation and distress of two living beings who grieve their master.

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