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Tilda Swinton sets the screen ablaze in Pedro Almodóvar’s expressionistic, dangerously dramatic English-language debut.

Abandoned by her partner, an actor finds herself erratically cycling through the stages of grief, as though for an unseen audience. Following her lover’s departure, she has effectively confined herself to her flat, with nothing but a border collie and her own thoughts keeping her company.

Loosely based on the eponymous 1930 stageplay by Jean Cocteau, this high-concept and highly-stylised work by Spanish auteur Almodóvar (Pain and Glory, MIFF 2019; Julieta, MIFF 2016) – his first short film in 11 years, and which premiered at the 2020 Venice Film Festival – depicts the twin pains of uncertainty and waiting. Propelled by Swinton’s arresting rendition of a woman teetering over the edge, The Human Voice reveals the performative basis of emotion as well as the impermanence of fame and love, while being a testament to Almodóvar’s talents transcending length.

“Delicious [and] exquisitely dressed … The Human Voice distils [Almodóvar’s] own rules of the game and laws of desire into a concise, concentrated burst of demented passion.” – Variety