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Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown


A woman's lover leaves her, and she tries to contact him to find out why he's left. She confronts his wife and son…

Release Year: 1988

Rating: 7.6/10 (13,429 voted)

Critic's Score: 85/100

Pedro Almodóvar

Stars: Carmen Maura, Antonio Banderas, Julieta Serrano

A woman's lover leaves her, and she tries to contact him to find out why he's left. She confronts his wife and son, who are as clueless as she. Meanwhile her girlfriend is afraid the police are looking for her because of her boyfriend's criminal activities. They talk to a female lawyer, who turns out to be the lover's new lover, and everyone's path keeps crossing each other's in a very complicated and confusing manner.

Writers: Pedro Almodóvar, Pedro Almodóvar


Carmen Maura


Antonio Banderas


Julieta Serrano


María Barranco


Rossy de Palma


Kiti Manver

Paulina Morales

Guillermo Montesinos


Chus Lampreave

Portera Testiga de Jehová

Eduardo Calvo

Padre de Lucía

(as Yayo Calvo)

Loles León


Ángel de Andrés López

Policía I

(as Angel de Andrés-López)

Fernando Guillén


Juan Lombardero


José Antonio Navarro

Policía II

Ana Leza


Release Date: 11 November 1988

Filming Locations: Estudios Barajas, Madrid, Spain

Box Office Details

Budget: $700,000


Gross: $7,179,298

Technical Specs


Did You Know?


Victoria Abril turned down the role of 'Candela'


Revealing mistakes:
Pepa pushes the baggage cart at Lucia and it moves with a great deal of speed. However, in the next shot, it's obvious that the cart barely hits her, yet she falls as if it did.


Paulina Morales:
You're weak, Ivan.

Yes, sweetheart.

Paulina Morales:
Don't agree with me.

But you're right.

Paulina Morales:
Sometimes I like to be wrong.

User Review

"Ask her who the hell is Ivan!" "Who the hell is Ivan?"


There are some movies that, no matter how good the translation, are
just impossible for a particular audience to get. This is why I think
most of the American audience wasn't be able to get into WOMEN ON THE
VERGE OF A NERVOUS BREAKDOWN. After directing the rather weak and
disappointing drama/thriller LAW OF DESIRE, Spanish director Pedro
Almodovar returned to screens in his full glory with this wonderful
Academy Award-nominated screwball comedy.

Pepa (Almodovar regular Carmen Maura) works as an actress for TV
commercials and dubbing of foreign films. Her lover Ivan (Fernando
Guillen), who shares the same job, decides to leave her one day for
unknown reasons, leading Pepa to assume he left with his wife Lucia
(Julieta Serrano), who was recently released from the mental hospital.
But after a while, Pepa realizes Lucia thinks the exact opposite, and
that Ivan left for an unknown third woman. While on her quest to find
this third woman, Pepa has to deal with her nervous friend Candela
(Maria Barranco) who recently found out her boyfriend is a wanted
terrorist and Carlos, (Antonio Banderas) Ivan's son whose annoying
fiancé ends up getting accidentally knocked off by a rather lethal

Going any further with this film's plot would be unfair since most of
the humor is delivered from it's many twists and turns. Almodovar was
able to write a script so sharp with so many colorful characters and
situations that the entire thing goes down with pure laughter. But is
everyone laughing?

That brings me to the answer as to why many people didn't find this
funny at all. If you don't speak or understand Spanish, (or some other
language that comes from Latin) you won't be able to get this film as
much as others. There is a reason why so many American comedians are
never able to make it overseas: Humor is simply not international. The
rumored but thankfully never completed American remake of this would
have never worked. The performances for example: To people who
understand the language, you can tell when the characters are being
ironic, sarcastic, goofy, or serious. I don't think you can do that
very well when English is your first language. So the users that have
been complaining about "flat" performances might be already explained.

Almodovar has been accused of being a feminist, and this movie might be
the main reason. I don't quite agree with that because WOMEN doesn't
really leave strong message. If it does, I know few people who would
actually care for it because this movie is hilarious. Every single
character in these 90 minutes of absurdity gets well-balanced and get
enough amount of time to shine: The MAMBO TAXI driver for example,
turns out to be one of the funniest elements. The scenes all by
themselves are already OK, but the frequency that they happen make them
somehow even funnier. And the first-rate acting gets a big plus in my
book. Everyone here is perfect (including a very scary way Almodovar
coaches a good performance out of Antonio Banderas) with the true
stand-out being Carmen Maura as over-the-top neurotic Pepa. It is a
shame this was Maura's last collaboration with Almodovar.

But WOMAN's style is also not to be ignored: Most of the movie is set
inside Pepa's apartment, which is put to good use. It is an amazing
then-futuristic-looking retro set that with it's sitcom-like camp and
artificial looking painted backgrounds becomes almost a character
itself. Cinematographer Jose Luis Alcaine's camera is always up to
interesting moves: There is the tracking shot of Pepa's feet as she
walks in circles waiting for her call, or the reflection take from the
answering machine. The work with colors is equally stunning, with the
main colors being yellow and blue, and Pepa's red dress "over coloring"
the environments around her for most of the time. You could freeze
frame almost every interior shot of WOMEN… and stare at it for a

I can't really recommend this movie enough, as much as hard it is to
review comedies. Reviewing a comedy is a tough call since it depends on
weather you found the material funny or not. I have seen this over ten
times and I always laugh at certain moments which I don't want to
spoil. Let's just say the Jehovah's testimony and the TV commercial are
the parts that always get me. I certainly did enjoy WOMEN… more than
any other comedy I have ever seen.