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VOD film review: The Human Voice (2020)

Written by Arthur

It can often be a perilous prospect when an acclaimed European filmmaker makes their English-language debut, but Pedro Almodóvar’s gorgeous short film soon overcomes any nerves with a sheer outpouring of style.

The 30-minute drama makes up for its short running time with an abundance of extravagance, as we follow an unnamed women facing the prospect of being left isolated in a brightly coloured apartment. Reimagining Jean Cocteau’s play for the current state of the world, we follow the woman as she talks to her lover, who is leaving her, over the phone – a conversation that takes place, naturally, via AirPods, so it almost looks as if she’s venting at herself. On the verge of a nervous breakdown, the woman cycles through every stage of post-relationship grief, from begging and desperation to acceptance and anger.

She’s played flawlessly by Tilda Swindon, who delivers each line of dialogue (or monologue) with biting wit and scathing intensity. The result burns through the half-hour runtime with a short, sharp dose of melodrama, one that plays with theatricality, nods to the filmmaker’s past work (Alberto Iglesias’ superb, heightened score borrows bits from his previous Almodóvar soundtracks) and ultimately brings the house down. Far from a perilous prospect, Almodóvar’s English-language debut leaves you hoping a feature-length project from Pedro and Tilda is on the way soon.

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