"Talk to Her" begins where the acclaimed "All About My Mother" ended, with the camera framed upon a pair of gold and pink theatrical curtains.
We're at a modern dance production, arranged by the German choreographer Pina Bausch. Sitting next to one another in the audience are two strangers, male nurse Benigno (Cámara) and Argentinean travel guide author Marco (Grandinetti), who's moved to tears by the spectacle.
Months later the paths of the two men cross again at a private medical clinic. Benigno is devotedly caring for a comatose young ballet student Alicia (Watling), whilst Marco is visiting his bullfighter girlfriend Lydia (Flores), gored so badly in the ring that she has been reduced to a persistent vegetative state.
An unexpected companionship begins when the strangely childlike Benigno suggests to the grieving Dario: "Talk to her".
Almodóvar's 14th feature is an effortlessly accomplished and richly resonant work.
It explores the pain of loneliness and loss, observes the difficulties of emotional communication between the sexes, but simultaneously celebrates the joy of friendship and art.
The film's complex narrative, which is divided into three unequal sections as well as shifting forwards and backwards in time, is interspersed with a number of scintillating sequences.
There's the eroticism of Lydia being fitted into her ceremonial costume, the open-air, night-time recital of Brazilian singer Caetano Veloso, and the clever seven-minute silent film "The Shrinking Lover", where the diminutive protagonist explores the contours of his lover's anatomy. (The female body belongs here to "Sex and Lucia" actress Paz Vega).
Shot in warm, vivid tones by cinematographer Javier Aguirresarobe, "Talk to Her" is a film of exceptional compassion and generosity.
In Spanish with English subtitles.