Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown Almodovar Review

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Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown: A Hilarious and Delirious Cinematic Gem


In 1988, the Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar captured international attention with his romantic black comedy, “Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown” (Mujeres al borde de un ataque de nervios). This film perfectly showcases Almodóvar’s distinctive storytelling style, encompassing elements of gaudiness, irony, and genre-bending narratives. With a seamless blend of melodrama, thriller, and screwball comedy, this cinematic masterpiece presents a more refined and satisfying version of Almodóvar’s unique vision compared to his earlier works.

The Story Unveiled

“Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown” revolves around Pepa, a television actress portrayed by Carmen Maura. Pepa’s life takes a dramatic turn when she discovers that her lover Iván, played by Fernando Guillén, has abruptly left her. Burdened by despair, Pepa finds herself engulfed in a series of failed attempts to reach out to Iván, resulting in missed messages and unanswered phone calls. Faced with overwhelming sadness, she contemplates suicide by lacing gazpacho with sleeping pills.

However, Pepa’s meticulously planned exit strategy quickly crumbles when her friend Candela, portrayed by María Barranco, seeks her help. Candela, unwittingly involved with a group of terrorists, is in a state of emotional turmoil. As Candela’s troubles intertwine with Pepa’s, the situation becomes increasingly chaotic. Adding to the complexity, Iván’s son Carlos (Antonio Banderas) and his demanding fiancee Marisa (Rossy de Palma) arrive at Pepa’s apartment for a visit. To their surprise, they discover a burnt bed, a destroyed telephone, and a distressed Pepa accompanied by Candela. As tensions rise, Iván’s unstable wife Lucía (Julieta Serrano) enters the scene, brandishing a gun and seeking revenge.

Almodóvar’s Signature Style

Pedro Almodóvar’s directorial flair is unmistakable in “Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown.” Known for his ability to seamlessly blend and reinvent genres, Almodóvar effortlessly combines melodrama, thriller, and screwball comedy to create an unforgettable cinematic experience. This film, with its breakneck pace and relentless energy, never loses its way or falls into self-indulgence during its compact 89-minute runtime.

One of the film’s remarkable attributes is its ability to strike a delicate balance between light and dark humor. The screenplay effortlessly transitions between comedic and dramatic moments, ensuring a harmonious tone throughout. One of the recurring and most enjoyable gags revolves around Pepa and Iván’s complete inability to communicate effectively, a clever device that drives the plot forward and generates moments of anger, desperation, and hilarity. This theme also highlights Almodóvar’s personal connection to the telephone—a nod to his previous career as a telephone repairman.

The Visual Splendor

Almodóvar’s films are renowned for their kitschy and visually captivating aesthetics, and “Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown” is no exception. Every frame radiates with vibrant colors and exudes an energy that matches the emotional turmoil of the characters. The director pays meticulous attention to detail, infusing even the smallest elements with flamboyant personality. From Pepa’s flowery dresses to Candela’s quirky coffee pot earrings, the background details are a visual feast for audiences. Notably, the scenes set inside the “mambo taxi” stand out as a testament to Almodóvar’s creative genius. The car’s leopard-print seats, “gracias por fumar” sticker (“thanks for smoking”), and the driver’s uncanny resemblance to Almodóvar himself make for an unforgettable cinematic experience.

An Almodóvar Classic

“Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown” encapsulates all the hallmarks of Pedro Almodóvar’s distinctive directorial style. For those unfamiliar with his works, this film serves as an accessible introduction to the eccentric brilliance that defines his filmography. Whether it’s the visually captivating kitsch, the genre-bending storylines, or the frenetic comedic energy, this masterpiece revels in its own unique rules, delivering an absolute joyride for audiences.


“Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown” showcases Pedro Almodóvar’s mastery of storytelling, blending various genres with his trademark kitschy visuals and flamboyant characters. With its breakneck pace and seamless balance between light and dark humor, this cinematic gem captivates audiences from start to finish. It’s a testament to Almodóvar’s directorial talent and an absolute delight for film enthusiasts.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is “Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown” based on a true story?

No, the film is not based on a true story. It is a work of fiction created by Pedro Almodóvar.

2. Are there any other films similar to “Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown”?

While each Almodóvar film has its unique charm, if you enjoy the blend of comedy, drama, and visually striking aesthetics in this film, you may also appreciate “All About My Mother” and “Talk to Her.”

3. What are some other notable works by Pedro Almodóvar?

Pedro Almodóvar is known for an extensive filmography that includes acclaimed works like “Volver,” “Bad Education,” “Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!,” and “Pain and Glory.”

4. What language is “Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown” in?

The film is primarily in Spanish, the native language of Pedro Almodóvar, but it is available with English subtitles for wider accessibility.

5. Has “Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown” received any awards?

Yes, the film received critical acclaim and was nominated for various awards. It won the Best Foreign Language Film at the National Board of Review and was nominated for the Best Foreign Language Film at the Golden Globe Awards.