Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown is a 1988 Spanish film that was written and directed by Pedro Almodóvar and starring Carmen Maura and a very young looking Antonio Banderas. The film was a critical success and also a success at a number of awards shows. It was nominated for an Oscar in the category of “Best Foreign Language Film” but did not win. However, the film snagged a number of wins in the domestic arena with several Goya awards in its home nation of Spain (Best Actress Leading Role, Best Actress Supporting Role, Best Editing, Best Film, Best Screenplay). The film was also a box office success and, in light of a modest $700,000 budget, did quite well at the box office with receipts of nearly $7.2 million. So does this Spanish hit deserve to stand among the best of the best and wear the label “classic?”
Should this film be considered a classic? Let me start out by saying that I love the way this film was shot. The cinematography was beautiful and included a number of low angle shots that gave the film a unique perspective. There were also some very funny scenes that left me chuckling as I watched the antics on screen. Plus the sets had a very lively and colorful look to them that helped set the tone for film. But is creative camera work, solid comedy, and good set design enough to make a film a classic? I don’t think so. While the movie is certainly well made, I found the story to be pretty cliche. Maybe it wasn’t cliche for a film in 1988 Spain, but I’m looking at this film in light of the many other great movies I have watched in going through this list. It simply doesn’t rise to the level of being the best of the best. In other words, unless you really like zany comedies, this is probably one you could die before seeing.
Would I own this film? No, I wouldn’t. That said, I think I would like to watch it again. I find that with subtitled films a second or third viewing makes it easier to focus on what is happening on screen and less on reading the words on the screen. That should tell you that I certainly didn’t find it a bad film. In fact it is good enough to want to revisit. It simply is not one of the greats in my book.