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Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown

4 Ratings: 3.5
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Director: Pedro Almodóvar
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Release Date: November 11, 1988
MPAA Rating: R
1 review about Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown

A masterful Spanish farce.

  • Aug 17, 2011
***1/2 out of ****

Pedro Almodovar's "Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown" is a wickedly funny Spanish farce that shows its filmmaker as one worth looking into. I can see clearly where Almodovar drew influence from, and just why he did. He's known as a master of the Spanish Cinema; and if this is so, then you better believe that this film will not be my last outing with the director. I laughed throughout; sometimes out loud and sometimes in my head. You don't always have to "laugh-out-loud" to admit that you thought something was funny. When something is truly clever, I believe we sit there quietly and be respectful of the film.

What I like about the film is that it never TRIES to be anything more than it is. It's a funny movie through-and-through, and it never takes a wrong turn down Sappy Lane. I'm wondering how good it would have been if it had taken that particular detour. My guess is: not as good as it is.

I shouldn't have to get into this one too much; you should watch it for yourself and decide what you think. The film begins with Ivan, a television live-action and voice-over actor; who leaves his girlfriend Pepa (Carmen Maura), also a voice-over actor. This leaves Pepa depressed and deprived; she has trouble sleeping and coping with her current emotional state. She even contemplates suicide by overdosing on sleeping pills, which she mixes into a drink; and you'll never guess who accidentally ends up drinking it. Her small apartment soon becomes the center of the story as some unexpected guests arrive; Carlos (Antonio Banderas), Lucia (Julieta Serrano), and the snobby Marisa (Rossy de Palma).

The film is frequently chaotic (with characters throwing household objects, such as telephones, out their windows), as well as dialogue-driven (talking takes up most of the film). But I like a good "talky movie" once in a while. They allow us to observe the story through speech. But Almodovar is also a visual artist; and his quirky narrative is told through both the words and the sights. The set-design here is fantastically colorful; which might or might not have been intended to be a highlight, but it was for me. I like films that look good, and this one definitely looks good, or better yet, perhaps even great.

As a farce, the film is great. It begins and ends a successful dark comedy; especially when guns and suicide are brought into the equation. If you can laugh at dark thoughts, from a dark mind, then you might enjoy the film. Amodovar made it for a certain kind of audience. If you are like me, and you are annoyed by the self-explanatory raunch-fests that invade our cinemas nowadays, and spoon-feed us comedic acts and sketches little-by-little, then you might also admire "Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown".

The film is so consistently all-over-the-place that it's almost difficult to describe. It's a pleasant and very funny experience that will stick with me for some time. I definitely believe that Almodovar deserves my attention; and therefore, I will watch some more of his films very, very soon. I've seen pictures of the writer-director, and he looks like a happy man; glad to do his job. He makes films that are much more than simply entertaining, but that doesn't mean all fun is derived from them in the process of making them "something more". This is a special film for so many reasons; many of them which I cannot list, because I'm finding it hard to come up with words to describe my viewing experience. I might have to watch the film again, and with pleasure. This is one of the best comedies out there, or at least, that's what I believe. Most of you reading this will want to at least check it out before you judge how it goes about with its humorous exploitation of its subjects. But if this is great exploitation, then I needn't ask for more.

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August 17, 2011
Awesome! Almodovar has made many great films & this is probably one of his most well-known. It's a bit strained when you place it next to his other works but still a great film nonetheless. You might try Volver, Flower Of My Secret, or All About My Mother next as they are kinda sorta in the same vein. I've written a few reviews for his work & movies. ;-)
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