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Short Film Showcase #10: A Review of The Human Voice

Yes, this is a week where I only have one short film to review due to a heavy Oscar focus this week, burnout after numerous festivals and a lot happening in my life from university to moving to a new flat. However, what a better short to dedicate a whole week’s segment of the Short Film Showcase to than the latest film from Pedro Almodóvar, The Human Voice.

IMDb Link: The Human Voice (2020)
Director: Pedro Almodóvar
Writer: Pedro Almodóvar
Starring: Tilda Swinton
Based on: The Human Voice by Jean Cocteau

Synopsis: A woman watches time passing next to the suitcases of her ex-lover (who is supposed to come pick them up, but never arrives) and a restless dog who doesn’t understand that his master has abandoned him. Two living beings facing abandonment.

This short film is very theatrical. It can take a while to get used to as this short film keeps the stage-like aspect of the original play. This is a short film that plays on the drama of the theatre, from the over-the-top performances and production design to the heavy use of the monologue. It may distract some people or take away from the message of the story, but it is the sort of film that Almodóvar is known for.

If short films were to ever have a nomination in an acting category, then Tilda Swinton would be in contention for Best Actress. It is everything the Academy loves, the huge dramatic scenes, the long monologues, the gut-punch emotions thrown left, right and centre. It is a lot to take in, but Swinton sells both the character development and the dramatic nature of the screenplay so beautifully that it is impossible to look away.

On a technical standpoint, there is no question why this is an almost lock for Best Live-Action Short. The costume design and production design helps you really invest in this crazy world as nothing is lacking. All of the technical elements can actually be overwhelming at time, especially at the start, and it is that bold opening that will either sell the film right at the start for people or turn them off. It is safe to say that I was certainly a fan and I almost wish that this could have been a feature-length film, fully getting to explore this leading character by Swinton and the world that is wonderfully crafted.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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