Director: Pedro Almódovar | 90 minutes | drama, comedy, romance | Actors: Carmen Maura, Antonio Banderas, Julieta Serrano, Rossy de Palma, María Barranco, Kiti Manver, Guillermo Montesinos, Chus Lampreave, Eduardo Calvo, Loles León
“Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown” is a light-hearted film by Oscar winner Almodóvar. While the director’s favorite themes are also present, such as the impact of love and relationships and the empowerment of women, and there are well-known and interesting stylistic elements to be discovered, the drama does not go very deep. It is a farce in which all kinds of absurd and accidental things happen, and which only has something to say between the lines. Not that this is a big deal. It is a film that proudly conveys its simple but amusing character. It is a pity that the story of the film is not particularly compelling, but the lively actors, the design, and the eye for detail that Almodóvar displays, nevertheless keep the (observant) viewer constantly fascinated.
Carmen Maura has to carry the film as Pepa and she does fine. She easily shows emotions such as sadness, desire, and anger, and often radiates a kind of sensuality. Her actions are also sometimes funny. She features in a comic commercial for a detergent, in which she plays the mother of a murderer who effortlessly washed off the blood from her son’s clothes. Fernando Guillen is also well cast as a “womanizer”, a capacity succinctly shown in a symbolic black-and-white opening montage by Ivan walking past a line of (ex-) mistresses from various countries, with a smooth comment ready for everyone. And their collaboration, sometimes in isolation, on the Spanish dubbing of ‘Johnny Guitar’ – in which she plays the role of Sterling Hayden and she that of Joan Crawford – is comical, but also romantic and dramatic in the way the words are real. represent emotions of Pepa.
The characters are usually fun to watch in action, but it’s also the little things in the set or costumes, or the camera work and use of color that keep the film interesting. Like the variegated color palette that Almodóvar uses, the espresso coffee pot earrings from Candela, or the nice close-ups and viewpoints, for example, of a bunch of tomatoes, an answering machine, and feet in high heels regularly passing by. Small events like a ride in a “pimped” mambo taxi are also entertaining. It is all these elements together – characters, use of color, camera work, an eye for detail – that add value to the brief story and make “Women” a pleasant pastime. Add to that a dash of successful girl power, and you have a successful movie in your hands.