Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (1988)


Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown is from director Pedro Almodovar, touted as Spain’s most famous director. Indeed, the names of many of his films are very familiar – Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! All About My Mother and Bad Education to name just a few. His most recent, I’m So Excited! was the opening film of MIFF 2013. I’ve not seen much of his work; in fact, the only one I can recall is Volver, which I saw recently and thoroughly enjoyed.

This film follows the life of Pepa, whose lover has just left. She is desperate to talk to him, but their messages miss each other, and no matter where Pepa is, she is one step behind him. Along with this, she is dealing with terrorists, lawyers, ex-wives and the telephone company.

It’s very much like a French farce, with things being thrown out of windows, people missing each other narrowly, running from one place to another, missing messages, misunderstandings. It’s fun and silly and there is a very young Antonio Banderas to keep your interest, which is very nice.

Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown was nominated for an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film.


Volver (2006) Film Review


Where to start with this film? Well, there is Raimunda (Penelope Cruz) who is living in Madrid with her daughter Paula (Yohana Cobo) and her deadbeat husband Paco (Anotonio de la Torre). They are barely coping with life when a tragic event occurs that Raimunda and Paula must deal with. Then there is her mother Irene (Carmen Maura) who died in a fire four years ago but has returned to live with her other daughter, Sole (Lola Deunas) to resolve issues from her life. Finally, there is Agustina (Blanca Portillo) who lived nearby Irene and her husband before they died and who is trying to resolve the issue of her missing mother before she becomes ill from the cancer which is afflicting her.

And there is more – this is only a small part of the plot. It’s also quite a long film, just over two hours long. But, in all of that, there are only two scenes that I felt didn’t quite work. One was a singing scene, which was kind of cute but didn’t really bring much – although the song gave the film its title. The other was the key meeting between Raimunda and her mother, where an awful lot of back story was explaining in a very detached and lengthy conversation. Overall, though, it is a great film, thoroughly entertaining, and with a great Hitchcock-esque soundtrack.

Penelope Cruz was nominated for an Oscar for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role.