(Originally published in Rocky Mountain Bullhorn)
Exhibiting far less of his previous work’s dark humor, Pedro Almodóvar’s Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (1988) is an exuberant comedy of manners drunk on its own outlandish melodrama. This slight tonal shift, however, doesn’t stop Almodóvar from indulging in his favorite obsessions – pulsating primary colors, satiric television commercials, Buñeul-inspired shots of women’s high heels – and from once again providing actress Carmen Maura (as soap opera star Pepa) with a tailor-made venue for her stylish, sexy, frazzled charisma. The film, which involves Pepa’s attempts to track down her married lover while a host of wacky friends and strangers (including Antonio Banderas’ Carlos and María Barranco’s Candela) invade her gaudy penthouse apartment, is a joyous romp that cheerily examines the turbulent nature of love and desire. And as with so much of the director’s oeuvre, it’s also a madcap fantasy about the empowering freedom women can enjoy by kicking their male lotharios to the curb.