Pedro Almodóvar’s English-language debut “The Human Voice” is a short film adaptation of the Jean Cocteau stage play of the same name, but Almodóvar’s sensory filmmaking and Tilda Swinton’s bracing lead performance make the 30-minute short film feel as emotionally fulfilling as any feature film. A trailer for the short has debuted below via distributor Sony Picture Classics, a studio which has worked with Almodóvar for well over a decade now.
Sony Picture Classics synopsis for “The Human Voice” reads: “A woman (Swinton) 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.”
“I always considered this adaptation as an experiment, a whim in which I would show what, in theater, is called the fourth wall, and in cinema would be to show the part behind, that is, the wooden structure that holds up the walls of the realistic set, the material reality of what is fictional,” Almodóvar said in a director’s statement (via EW). “The reality of this woman is the pain, the solitude, the darkness in which she lives. I have tried to make all this obvious, moving and eloquent through the sublime performance by Tilda Swinton, showing very early on that her house is a construction inside a cinema sound stage.”
IndieWire awarded “The Human Voice” an A- review out of the Venice Film Festival, writing, “This is the pure, distilled essence of both the veteran director and the actress. For anyone who is smitten by Almódovar and Swinton’s instantly recognizable styles, the film is basically porn. Feast your eyes on those mustard-colored kitchen cabinets! Bow down before those leopard-print stilettos! Any more than 30 minutes might have been too much to take.”
Sony Picture Classics will release “The Human Voice” next year, most likely in time for Oscar consideration. Almódovar and Swinton finished production on the short over the summer during the pandemic and world premiered the project at the Venice Film Festival. Watch the official trailer for the short film in the video below.