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Almodovar’s English-language “The Human Voice” Streaming Now on HBO Max (Review)

I’ve been a huge fan of Pedro Almodovar’s work since I saw his Academy Award-nominated 1988 film “Women On The Verge Of A Nervous Breakdown” as a teenager.

Prolific and always provocative, the Spanish director has never made a feature film in English, but now he has delivered a rather experimental 30-minute film that is. During the COVID lockdown he teamed up with the brilliant Tilda Swinton to create the short based on a play by Jean Cocteau.

Swinton is credited simply as “Woman.” Her lover has left and she is in their shared apartment with his packed suitcases and dog, who has slowly begun to realize that his master isn’t coming back.

Distraught and unsure of how to manage an animal who wants nothing to do with her, we observe her grief, anger, sadness, and ultimately a phone call with the unseen ex.

This gives Swinton the opportunity to burn up the screen in an extended dialogue as it becomes clear the relationship is past the point of no return.

This may not be a full-length movie, but everything about the production is top notch. As you might expect, every shot is bursting with color and exquisite design, captured lovingly by Pedro’s frequent cinematographer, Jose Luis Alcaine.

For now, you cannot rent or buy this anywhere. If I was a betting man, I would put money on it ending up as a bonus feature on the eventual home video release of his next feature, 2022’s “Parallel Mothers,” which is already filming with Penelope Cruz, Julieta Serrano and Rossy de Palma.

“The Human Voice” is streaming now exclusively on HBO Max. Many of Pedro’s classic films, including “All About My Mother,” “Bad Education,” “Broken Embraces,” “The Skin I Live In,” “Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down,” and “Women On The Verge Of A Nervous Breakdown” are also currently available on the service.

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