MADRID — Not resting on his laurels after a whirlwind year promoting and exhibiting his latest Oscar-nominated feature, “Pain and Glory,” Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar has designs to get back behind the camera soon with two English-language projects, marking the first time in his decades-long career the director will film in the language.
Almodóvar has had rumored opportunities to crossover into English-language cinema before, having been offered 1992’s Whoopi Goldberg-led “Sister Act” and various possible English-language adaptations of his Spanish work. But now, at 70 years old, he’s ready to make the leap.
While promoting “Pain and Glory” in the fall of 2019, he teased the now-confirmed projects and discussed a nearly completed screenplay adaptation of “five short tales by one American writer.”
Over the weekend, he confirmed to IndieWire that Lucia Berlin’s “A Manual for Cleaning Women” was the source material for the upcoming feature.
Almodóvar also told IndieWire that he will shoot a short film adaptation of Jean Cocteau’s “The Human Voice,” starring Academy Award-winning actress Tilda Swinton, an actress who has never shied away from working with directors outside the English-speaking world.
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According to the director, shooting on “The Human Voice” will take place this April in Madrid. The original play, set in Paris, is delivered in one act and turns on a woman’s final phone call with her lover of five years, who is scheduled to marry another woman the following day. The call triggers crippling depression in the protagonist. “The Human Voice” was featured in 1987’s “The Law of Desire,” where Carmen Maura appeared in a stage production, and helped inspire Almodóvar’s 1988 feature “Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown,” his first to be nominated for an Oscar.
Other adaptations of the work include Roberto Rossellini’s 1948 anthology feature “L’Amore,” a 1958 opera composed by Francis Poulenc and a made-for-TV version of the play starring Ingrid Bergman.
According to the director, he and Swinton have worked together updating certain aspects of the story and the woman’s behavior, which sometimes seem out of touch with modern sensibilities.