Spanish director Pedro Almodovar created a fiery sensation with this nutty screwball comedy, about a slightly unbalanced actress in a desperate situation. "Women on the Verge..." was Almodovar's international breakthrough ... more »film, and is one of his best loved.« less
One of the Funniest European Films of the Past 50 Years
Gary F. Taylor | Biloxi, MS USA | 05/08/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Pepa is having a crisis. Her lover is leaving her and now her doctor tells her she is pregnant. Her best friend may be wanted by the police for her association with a Shiite terrorist. And now her lover's psychotic wife is knocking at the door. Can she catch up with her lover, protect her friend, arrange a new romance for her lover's son, dodge the police, and disarm her lover's wife in time to foil an international terrorist plot? Well... maybe after she serves her guests some gazpacho.In any other hands WOMEN ON THE VERGE OF A NERVOUS BREAKDOWN would collapse into mere frantic farce, but Almodovar directs Carmen Marua and an ensemble cast to a brilliant series of plausible performances that allows the viewer to buy into the story, improbabilities and all--and the result is a hilarious, touching, and fascinating film that is considerably more than the sum of its parts. This is certainly comedy at its most sophistocated, splashed with social satire and spangled with a touch of symbolism for those inclined to seek it.A number of motifs run through the film--recorded voices, telephones, and the color red are but a few examples--but Almodovar doesn't force his audience to deconstruct his film in order to enjoy it, and WOMEN ON THE VERGE is easily one of the funniest European films of the past fifty years. Those who expect farce plain and simple or who like their movies to tie up into a neat package by the time the credits roll may be disappointed--but if you can make a leap of faith and meet the film on its own terms you'll find it sly, witty, often laugh-out-loud funny... and it will leave you with a feel-good afterglow too. Strongly, strongly recommended."
Rebecca Johnson | Washington State | 06/28/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Watching this movie will make any woman feel quite sane. You just cannot imagine your life could get this out of control.
The opening scenes are dreamlike, colorful and only when you watch this for the second time do you fully understand the implications of all the movie making episodes and why Ivan is walking by woman after woman saying exactly what they want to hear.
In this movie, there are a number of women who are involved with a number of men they should be running from instead of pursuing them endlessly in the hopes of returned affection.
While I started watching this in English, you might also tend to agree it is best watched with the Castilian audio track and the subtitles of your choice.
This story really begins with Pepa (Carmen Maura) oversleeping and hearing the love of her life leave a message on her answering machine asking her to pack all his things in a suitcase because he is leaving on a trip. Pepa does what any sane woman would do and tosses out everything that reminds her of Ivan. Except it takes almost the entire movie for this to happen. We wonder how she would have reacted if she had not wanted to tell Ivan she was pregnant.
Candela (Maria Barranco) is one of her best friends she is trying to avoid so she can deal with her own heartbreak. Candela is running from the law and needs a safe place to escape to until she can figure out how to warn the world about a Shiite terrorist attack she found out about from her ex. Eventually Candela makes her way to Pepa's penthouse just as Pepa is flying out the door.
Each woman is vulnerable in various ways. Lucia deals with her rejection in violent ways, Pepa by looking for her boyfriend endlessly and Candela by trying to jump from the balcony of Pepa's penthouse.
This movie is so beautifully woven together with all sort of delicious connections including the gazpacho episodes and the taxi driver. Nothing in this movie is expected. You also see each character giving her view of the entire situation. Antonio Banderas appears as Ivan's son Carlos and is hardly recognizable at first. Must have been that he is so young and is wearing glasses.
At times just the way the scenes are filmed gives it such visual appeal. It is a comedy, a mystery, a thriller depending on the music which is only used to maximum effect where needed. There is some brilliant symbolism like the bed going up in flames perhaps representing a relationship destroyed in a moment of misunderstanding or passion.
With that said, this has to be the most hysterical film I have seen "since" I watched a movie when I was seven called "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963)." This movie is also one you will not soon forget. If it wasn't for the study of sexual customs, this would be an innocent romp at best.
Vibrant, artistic and unrestricted in its originality and hilarity.
~The Rebecca Review"
Screwball Comedy is Not Dead
Rivkah Maccaby | Bloomington, IN United States | 11/07/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a day in the life of Pepa, voice-over artist. She dubs foreign films into her native Spanish, and sometimes provides the voice for actresses in Spanish films who for whatever reason don't speak their own lines (this is common practice in many European film industries).As though Pepa's day weren't bad enough, because her lover Ivan has just broken up with her, and she's found out she's pregnant by him, people keep entering her life with strange demands on this day. First is her friend Candela, who is running from her Arab muslim boyfriend; he has turned out to be a shiite terrorist. After that, many new people pop up when least expected, each a little closer to a nervous breakdown than the last. And each, it would seen, more determined to push Pepa over the edge, but she somehow keeps her cool, and makes it through the day.Pepa is the one person in this film who seems to have the "right" to completely breakdown, and yet she is the sanest
one here.This is screwball comedy (plus sex) just like Leo McCarey and Ernst Lubitsch used to make. I congratulate Almadovar on capturing this tenor. Recent American attempts to revive this style have usually digressed into tar pits of lame yet gross sex jokes, or played like two hour sit-coms. This film is quick and light, and none of the actors ever step outside their characters to say to the audience "Look at me! I'm being funny!" which is the scourge of this type of film.I laugh myself to tears watching this film; I quite literally fell out of my seat once. And this is with repeated viewings.I love this film."
Watch it,if you appreciate madhouse humor;if you don't, then
zara_azari | 06/08/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"WATCH THIS FILM AND LEARN TO APPRECIATE THIS KIND OF HUMOR, WHILE YOU STILL CAN... This film is one of the most funniest films, I have ever seen. Even if you watch it dozen of times, it is still funny, because [while dialogue itself is hilarious] the most fun comes from the faces and body language of the actors/characters. Statistically, this film is the most popular Spanish film in North America, so far. It is definitely the most popular and well-known of Almodovar's films.I don't want to give away the plot. Besides, the plot is too crazy to explain... You just have to see it. I'll just say that you will see:Banderas as a stuttering, young man in glasses [beautiful, just as well...], who is totally under control of his impossibly ugly fiancee [very gifted comedian actress, but the way].Young girl, trying to commit suicide, by sliding off the penthouse balcony. Young virgin, having an erotic dream and, subsequently, "losing her virginity" in a dream, after being heavily drugged.Also, coming to the screen near you: crazy mother, strange taxi-driver, unlucky terrorists, wacky neighbors, sloppy policemen, and one over-sexed womanizer, who gets what he deserves, but not quite....All in all, it is a total mad-house, created in a very beautiful Spanish penthouse, by a series of unfortunate circumstances.After watching this film, I thought to myself, that Shakespearean comedies have finally found their independent counter-part in the 20th cenruty's cinema."
Alan | Ireland | 01/20/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is probably my favourite movie ever: the acting is superb, the direction, cinematography and editing are flawless, the plot is deliciously bizarre. The best thing about the film is the colours though - it's an absolute joy to watch, I've never seen a redder red. What more can I say?"