After her longtime lover leaves her without explanation, Pepa (Carmen Maura) resolves to kill herself with a batch of gazpacho laced with sleeping pills. Before she can go through with her plan, she’s interrupted by a chaotic series of events; from her friend Candela (María Barranco) trying to evade police because of her ex-boyfriend’s criminal activities, and to the sudden, separate appearances of her lover’s son (Antonio Banderas) and wife (Julieta Serrano).
– How many men have you had to forget?
– As many as the women you remember.
Watching Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown was like watching a screwball comedy from the classic Hollywood era, except with a colorful, Spanish twist. Director Pedro Almodóvar does an excellent job of blending the core melodrama with the plot’s zanier elements, and the film’s wonderful ensemble cast of actresses (plus Antonio Banderas) really helps make it such an enjoyable watch. There’s not a bad performance among them, and they all have great chemistry together. Carmen Maura is particularly fantastic as the film’s lead, as she essentially links together all that goes on in the story and ends up looking like the sanest one of the bunch.
As I mentioned in my Blind Spot announcement post, I wanted to take advantage of what’s streaming on FilmStruck, as well as expand my foreign film horizon. Pedro Almodóvar is one director whose work I’d love to see more of; as of now, I’ve only seen three of his films, including Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, this month’s Blind Spot pick. It was with this film that the Spanish director first gained critical and commercial success internationally, and it earned an Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Language Film. After seeing this film, I can definitely see how it successfully launched Almodóvar’s career, and I really look forward to seeing more from this vibrant director.
Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (1988)
Directed by: Pedro Almodóvar
Starring: Carmen Maura, Antonio Banderas, Julieta Serrano, Rossy de Palma, María Barranco
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