While there has been more critical attention on Pedro Almodóvar's films in recent years, his narrative craft has not been extensively studied, even as he is frequently described as one of the most creative and unconventional storytellers of the contemporary screen. This article explores Almodóvar's narrative style through a close analysis of the deployment of coincidence as a device in Talk to Her, a film structured by coincidental meetings and events. Tracing Almodóvar's treatment of coincidence allows us to evaluate and appreciate the classical echoes of his narrative tendencies and in the process delve into the humanist epistemological and philosophical implications of his representational choices. Coincidental plots in this film create dense social networks among relative strangers, networks that operate to enfold or absorb strangers and thus effectively eradicate the notion of the stranger. Coincidence in this case would seem to satisfy a contemporary desire for recognition and connection among strangers, which the film would then exploit for its melodramatic potential. Yet far from facilitating a purely utopian meditation on countering the alienating structures of contemporary life, the deployment of coincidence in Talk to Her also presents the negative potential of such enfolding. In contrast to the overt imperative to “talk” in its title, the film in effect uses the narrative logic of melodrama to traffic in secrets and to develop eloquent modes of silence.
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Despina Kakoudaki; World without Strangers: The Poetics of Coincidence in Pedro Almodóvar's Talk to Her. Camera Obscura 1 September 2008; 23 (2 (68)): 1–39. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/02705346-2008-001
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