Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, which established Almodóvar’s smashing international repute, is a singularly vibrant exercise in farce. Packed with neurotic women at the edge of their sanities, a carnivalesque atmosphere against deliberately theatrical set-pieces, and comprising of one deliriously and gleefully wacky narrative development after another, this idiosyncratic, offbeat, deceptively feminist and incredibly hilarious film is impossible to pigeonhole, and provided for depiction of a truly uninhibited post-Franco Madrid. The flamboyant dash of bold, solid colours that defined the film’s palette, and the arresting use of deeply melodic score that strikingly contrasted with the movie’s madcap tone, further amplified its cinematic bravura. Pepa (Carmen Maura), a well-known voiceover artist, is depressed and distraught as her lover Iván (Fernando Guillén), a philandering lothario with a silken voice, is possibly having an affair with another woman. She therefore spikes her gazpacho with sleeping pills to end her life, only for that drink to be consumed by everyone but herself, as her penthouse apartment becomes a crazy melting pot – her panic-stricken friend (María Barranco) whose boyfriend is a radical terrorist, Iván’s docile son (Antonio Banderas) who arrives to rent the apartment with his domineering fiancée, Iván’s mentally unstable and homicidal ex-wife Lucia (Julieta Serrano) who’s desperate to get back Iván, and finally cops investigating a potential airplane hijack plan. Throw in a sentimental taxi-driver who ends up arriving every time Pepe hails a cab, people randomly snoozing off upon consuming the spiked gazpacho, a series of droll gags featuring telephone messages and booths, and a truly unhinged chase sequence – and what one gets from this terrific ensemble piece is an uproarious, absurdist and unapologetically outlandish comedy of errors.
Director: Pedro Almodovar
Genre: Comedy/Black Comedy/Farce/Ensemble Film