Artificial Display of Affection

Arts & CultureFebruary 8, 2022
Artificial Display of Affection

Monochrome outfits, airpods; violance, anxiety and the feeling of being left alone. The story of a woman left by her husband, puts her pain into her sentences in the most theatrical way. Pedro Almodóvar, who we hear a lot lately for his newest movie “Parallel Mothers”, 29 minutes long ‘The Human Voice’ is the first ever English language movie of the director and is freely based on the 1930s play by Jean Cocteau. The movie is a monologue about how love and obsession can be hand to hand.

The monologue is given to Tilda Swinton, the character is a passionate actress. The story starts with her being left by her husband of 4 years and how the only thing she wants is the chace to say goodbye face to face. From the first moment of the movie we understand the intentions of Almodóvar, how he uses the costumes and tries to point our focus on the  triangle of objects – spaces – feelings. The opening credits of the movie is an artpiece by itself that you don’t want to skip.

Not knowing the names of the characters, the one thing that we’re sure of is that the ‘woman’ is an actress. The tenderness of being left gets combined with her successful acting, the woman is turning her anger into violance and affection into a theatrical piece, Swinton is obviously was the right choice for ‘The Human Voice’. Our character is a woman questioning her feminenity and from time to time she acts her way out of grief with a artificial reflection of how ‘strong’ she can be. To describe this fake mindstate, Almodóvar creates the perfect set for the story and a color palette with the pastel tones of dominant colors as he always does. The place ‘woman’ calls home is a movie set designed with fake drawers and rooms with no ceilings.. She lays down her husband’s suit on his side of the bed and attacks it with an axe to show us how she’s suffering meanwhile she changes her clothes throughout the film as her emotions change. There are only two things in the movie that we’re sure of being authentic, the dog and the suitcases by the door waiting to be taken. We can clearly say that the objects in the movie are a subject to being fetishized.

In the first scene, we meet with a woman who is taking a handful of sleeping pills to kill herself -even though she know they won’t kill her- wakes up after a few seconds to a ringing phone. She answers the phone as if it’s the last chance to be able to speak with him ever again. She puts on her airpods in a rush and begins to tell him how great she is doing since he left her. Wandering around the house, after minutes go by she loses her calmness into a rage. The sudden silence on the call evolves into a nervous breakdown. She changes her clothes again furiously until the phone rings again and she continues to talk calmly and tricks him -and us- into believing as if nothing has happened in these few minutes.

The focus of the movie is the theatrical lines our character has created for herself. Having no clue of the man on the other side of the call, we only see one side of the story which is the woman’s perspective. We don’t see or hear anything but the woman, only sense the man is concerned about the situation. The over-acting situation of woman tells us how heartbroken she is. Even though we know almost everything she says is a lie we cannot see her as the obsessive one and we also empathize with her.

To soothen the sorrow and despair Almodovar puts us in after 29 minutes, we leave you with our  playlist.

Author: Öykü Gül