Archive of films Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown / Mujeres al borde de un ataque de nervios

1988, 88 min

Section: 30 Years of the European Film Academy
Year: 2017

As she doggedly searches for her inconstant lover, protagonist Pepa serves as the common thread linking absurd situations with insights into the bizarre lives of numerous characters. The film successfully passes for a madcap comedy, but the women here are connected by something else – emotional turmoil and loneliness.


Even Pedro Almodóvar’s first feature, which caused quite a stir in the film world, bears all the hallmarks of his unique talent. It betrays a fondness for stories built upon situations in which seemingly disparate elements combine with ferocious yet refined indelicacy: a plot worthy of a telenovela, absurd exaggeration, an accumulation of the bizarre and the provocative, with deeper emotionality and a weighty subtext. The director spurns restraint at the stylistic level as well, unfolding his story at breakneck speed and shocking the viewer with unexpected edits, camera angles, and fluid lensing techniques, offbeat casting, and novel work with actors. In the present case, Pepa’s lover leaves her alone and desperate, and for two days she doggedly seeks him out in order to tell him she’s pregnant. That might seem a pretty slim plot for a feature, but that doesn’t faze Almodóvar. As is his wont, he simply inserts other characters into the mix, introducing surprisingly confused and wryly humorous situations involving deceived women and selfish men, while the main thrust is the absurdity of our notion of what constitutes an interpersonal relationship.

Zdena Škapová

About the director

Pedro Almodóvar (b. 1949, Calzada de Calatrava, Spain) came to film in the mid-1970s after Franco’s death loosened the state’s grip on cultural expression. His first amateur movies are marked by free and open thought and a determination to radically explode any and all taboos, primarily those concerning sexuality and the perception of the role of women in Spain’s strongly traditionalist society. These topics are key to his extensive filmography, and he uses them to lambaste dysfunctional political and social conventions. Conceived in an unmistakable creative style, his films have earned numerous top prizes, including two Oscars: Best Foreign Language Film for All About My Mother (1999) and Best Original Screenplay for Talk to Her (2002). Selected filmography: Labyrinth of Passion (1982), Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! (1989), High Heels (1991), The Flower of My Secret (1995 – Best Actress for Marisa Paredes at KVIFF 2006), Bad Education (2004), Volver (2006), Broken Embraces (2009), Julieta (2015).


Tamasa Distribution
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Tel: +33 143 590 101
Fax: +33 143 596 441

About the film

Color, DCP

Section: 30 Years of the European Film Academy
Director: Pedro Almodóvar
Screenplay: Pedro Almodóvar
Dir. of Photography: José Luis Alcaine
Music: Bernardo Bonezzi
Editor: José Salcedo
Art Director: Félix Murcia, Decor Moya
Producer: Agustín Almodóvar
Production: Laurenfilm, El Deseo
Cast: Carmen Maura, Antonio Banderas, Julieta Serrano, María Barranco, Rossy de Palma
Sales: Tamasa Distribution

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