Blog post by Ross Munro for Wholly Cinema.
Not since participating in last year’s Running of the Bulls (my leg’s healing nicely by the way- thanks for asking…) have I been this excited by another event coming out of Spain- namely the newly-released Criterion Blu-ray of Pedro Almodovar’s classic comedy “Women On The Verge Of A Nervous Breakdown”!
Originally hitting theaters in 1988, this sophisticated slice of Hollywood screwball-inspired filmmaking announced the arrival of a new cinematic voice to be reckoned with coming out of Europe as the film was wildly embraced here in North America scoring an Oscar nod for Best Foreign Language feature.
Presently about to serve as the Head Juror at the upcoming Cannes Film Festival, the prolific and auteur-driven Almodovar has followed up this seminal film (made between “Law of Desire” and “Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!”) with a hugely impressive body of work culminating with last year’s critically-ballyhooed “Julieta”.
Paying homage to the great golden era of Hollywood when starlets like Bette Davis and Joan Crawford ruled the roost, Almodovar’s films usually focus on the serio-comic travails of his lovingly-photographed female protagonists exemplified by “Nervous Breakdown” star Carmen Maura’s love-scorned character “Pepa” as she searches the vibrantly color-saturated world of modern Madrid for the man who jilted her.
Of course, an Aldodovar joint is not complete without an impossibly hilarious gallery of memorable supporting characters populating the screen (including a very young Antonio Banderas) as the comedic mayhem careens its way towards its satisfyingly muy loco (thanks Berlitz!) climax.
The film even went on to inspire a Broadway musical in 2010 which pretty well closed right after debuting on the Great White Way but was recently revived in London’s West End to critical acclaim (I’m betting this has something to due with this city’s love affair with steak and kidney pies but don’t quote me…).
And with the usual plethora of cinematic extras crammed into this already-brimming Blu-ray befitting the Criterion Collection and, with the release dates of great films “Blow Up” and “Being There” amongst many just around the corner, how can you go wrong picking up this classic of modern European filmmaking?
So invite your amigos, mix up a pitcher or dos of sangria, order some take out from the Paella Hut and raise a toast for Pedro Almodovar’s early cinematic nervous breakdown courtesy of the fine folks at Criterion. You’ll be muy feliz you did.
Viva La Cinema!