Film review The Human Voice

PUBLISHED: 19:49 29 October 2020

Tilda Swinton in Almodovar's The Human Voice

Tilda Swinton in Almodovar's The Human Voice


Almodovar’s lockdown project is a half hour English language monologue about Tilda Switon’s jilted lover that feels like an exercise in acting for acting’s sake

It’s freely adapted from a piece by Jean Cocteau, Tilda Swinton’s in it and it’s A Film By Almodovar, the artist who mislaid his first name, so you can expect it to be buried under enough gush that people will be prepared to shell out for a half-hour monologue.

Swinton is a woman on the verge of a nervous breakdown, living in a flat decorated in the bright, primary colours of one of his early films from the Pedro days.

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Ah, but it’s actually a film set, in the middle of a sound stage. She buys an axe and then takes a phone call from the lover who has ended things after four years.

A lot of people have used lockdown as a chance to try something new. Almodovar has used it as an opportunity to make his first film in English.

It glides pleasantly past, looks tremendous but, let’s be honest, when it comes to writing half-hour monologues for female performers that Cocteau was no Alan Bennett, and it all looks like an exercise in acting for acting’s sake.

2/5 stars

Directed by Almodovar. Starring Tilda Swinton. 30 mins. + pre-recorded Q&A with Swinton, Almodovar and Mark Kermode. Running time: 45 mins.

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