The camera lingers on her hands that reminds me of my grandmother’s: thin, but with huge knuckles, blue veins and stringy tendons on the back leading up to each finger under paper-thin skin. Hands tell a woman’s age much more than her face, and these are hands of an old woman. The camera wants us to understand this.
The movie is “Human Voice,” shown recently on the TCM channel, is a latest version of a frequently-made short movie less than half an hour long about an aging beauty desperately clinging to her lover who has found a younger woman. She is on the phone with him as he tells her he is leaving, and we only hear her side of the conversation, her pleading in a cause we know is hopeless. He wants youth; she no longer has it.
Her unnaturally white teeth signal many hours in a dentist’s chair. Her hair is puffed up and dyed a tasteful red, but obviously dyed and obviously thin. Her nails are expensively done. Her long, false eyelashes mock her age. All of this was once attractive, but now only seems indulgent.
He is the tragic one. The life he has chosen will not end well for him, and she has made his tragedy hers. We hope she will eventually come to her senses, and we feel she will. This painful time for her is temporary, a necessary transition. His moment of truth still lies ahead. (My grandmother had five children but was fortunately no beauty and did not have to experience a transition. Physical beauty in both men and women is a formidable hindrance to happiness.)
The actress that plays the role so convincingly is Sophia Loren. I kid you not.