In this ravishing tale of romantic obsession, loneliness and friendship, Director Pedro Almodovar crafts a life affirming story of two tragic women and the men who love them. After a chance encounter at a theatre, two men, Benigno and Marco, meet at a private clinic where Benigno works. Lydia, Marco's girlfriend and a bullfighter by profession, has been injured and is gravely ill. It so happens that Benigno is looking after another woman in the clinic, Alicia, a young ballet student. The lives of the four characters will flow in all directions, past, present and future, urging them towards an unexpected destiny.
On release in 2002 this movie received many, in my opinion, overblown reviews. The sort of reviews that are applied to movies from the likes of directors such as Almodovar and Allen, reverential and full of critic-babble. Yes, it is a good movie with good acting performances and an intriguing, but rather disturbing story line. It does follow themes of friendship and loneliness, but hardly 'romance'. In this movie, Almodovar focusses on male leads and the female leads are reduced to passivity. the characters Marco and Benigno are shown as emotionally sensitive, but also carry complicated psychological baggage. Benigno is, to say the least, strange and ultimately his behaviour is reprehensible. Almodovar's excursions into clever wit are not so much comedy, but more comical; Almodovar is not good with irony and this is evident in the b&w movie sequence. (The hospital featured is a bizarre set-up and hopefully not normal in Spain!) As a director's movie, it depicts a very personalised, but dubious, insight in relationships and sexuality. Nevertheless, the movie is worth watching.