Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (1988)

by guest writer

Mujeres al borde de un ataque de nervios is Pedro Almodóvar’s breakthrough movie that won him an Oscar for foreign language film. Carmen Maura is wonderful in the character of Pepa, a woman in her early fourties in love with a married man, Iván (Fernando Guillén). All these clues relate more to a soap opera than a black comedy. It is true, Almodóvar mocks with his madcap comedy the very heart of the genre. But his merits lie also in making one of the smartest comedies to emerge since the classic era.

Driven to the verge of suicide by a lover who left her for another, Pepa does crazy things because she can’t resist fighting back. Madness seems to describe best the farcical events that unfold into a situation where a mentally disordered wife seeks vengeance and a forgotten blender of gazpacho spiked with sleeping pills is bound to be drunk by the wrong person. Again with Pedro Almodóvar, you never know what to expect next and the suspense is at its highest in Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown. But the comedy wins the deserved prize by interpolating all kinds of characters as actors, policemen, nymphs, women hunters and easily corruptible people. The cinematography bears traces of Hitchcock with a trick shot that relates to a passage from Strangers on a Train. You’ll be able to remember the soundtrack even after the film has ended and surely you’ll seat on the verge of your sofa seeing this brilliant piece of modern cinema.

photo: the film’s poster


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