(1988)4.5Rebecca Flint MarxPedro Almodóvar at his outrageous best, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown is the most delightful of farces: charming and kinetic, it envelops a message of strange lucidity in a package of vibrant absurdity. Everything in the film's parallel universe abides by its own bizarre but oddly rational logic, from the premise that a forgotten pitcher of sleeping pill-spiked gazpacho meant for one person's suicide will of course be consumed by someone else, to the idea that no matter how much of a lout your ex-lover may be, he's no match for the Shiite terrorist your best friend happens to be dating. Throw in the ex-lover's gun-toting, bewigged wife; a tangle of friends, lovers, and their previously unheard-of relations who all show up at the same place; and a bed set afire by a stray cigarette, and you have the unique reality of Pedro Almodóvar. Almodóvar had previously directed a number of films that found success (and, more often than not, controversy) in his native Spain, such as Matador, Law of Desire, and What Have I Done to Deserve This?, but none reached the level of international acclaim achieved by Women. A stylish, sophisticated farce, it was a perfect blend of the director's candy-colored vision and his offbeat, devilishly witty brand of humor. In addition to establishing him as a master of farce, the film enhanced Almodóvar's reputation as a woman's director and solidified his standing as an important figure in world cinema, with many critics hailing him as the most significant Spanish director since Luis Buñuel.
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