Vagina Dialogue

For me, the most memorable scene in Pedro Almodóvar's wonderfully kooky, sentimental "Hable con ella" -- "Speak to Her" -- is the vagina. Not the real vagina of the comatose girl whom the nurse Benigno massages lovingly, but the huge, hoky inflated rubber vagina in the black-and-white silent movie (invented for this film), "El amante menguante" -- "The Shrinking Lover." The lover, shrunk down to the size of a man's middle finger, first clambers all over the lovely breasts of his sleeping girlfriend, then slips between her thighs to peer into the dark mysterious opening. After some nervous, excited probing, he strips off his skivvies and plunges in. Ah! And there he disappears! It was great fun to see the literalization of this common male fantasy -- I mean, guys, Almodóvar and I aren't the only ones to have such dreams, are we?

Unlike some of Almodóvar's other films -- "Mujeres al borde de la histeria," to cite one of the most hilarious -- "Speak to Me" is not really about women at all, but of the effects of women on men. In particular, it's about how two men -- Benigno and the Argentine travel writer, Marco -- can communicate with each other only through their relations to women who can't respond. It's almost the opposite of Eve Ensler's funny and effective concept in "Vagina Monologues," where the vaginas do the talking. Here, it is the men talking to each other through the vagina. Yes, Almodóvar is on to something here. We guys do often relate to each other in this indirect way. Maybe because we're too shy to talk to each other, we have to tell each other to "Speak to Her."

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