RELEASE DATE Nov. 19
Breaking news: ''The Talk To Her'' director has discovered the next Julia Roberts! Gael Garcia Bernal plays a transvestite still reeling from the sexual advances of a priest that he endured as a boy, and does the dude ever look like one famous woman. ''With the curvy wig and those lips, his face was very similar to Roberts','' agrees Pedro Almodóvar. ''But Gael told me he saw the face of his mother, the Mexican actress [Patricia Bernal], and he found that creepy.''
When Almodóvar wrote a draft 10 years ago, he was still exorcising demons left over from his Catholic-school upbringing. ''When I picked the story back up, the priests and the terrible education were no longer a ghost. It's maturity that has allowed me to make a film that isn't trying to take revenge.'' With homages to everything from James Cain novels to Barbara Stanwyck's '40s-style sunglasses in ''Double Indemnity,'' the director instead traces noir back to its roots. Shot last summer during Spain's record heat wave, he overcame child actors and nightmare location scouts. ''All the schools in Spain belong to the Catholic Church, and they wouldn't give Pedro Almodóvar a drink in the desert,'' he laughs. ''It's like when mothers talk about their children who've made them suffer but they love as well. This is a film that made me suffer enormously, but I still adore it.''
What's At Stake Disappointing fans. A dip into the chillier world of noir might leave them cold.