The Frida Cinema

Orange County's Year-Round Film Festival

Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown

Women on the Verge poster

The Frida continues its celebration of Pedro Almodóvar with his 1988 screwball comedy Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown.

Loosely based on the play The Human Voice by Jean Cocteau, the film follows actress Pepa (Carmen Maura) as she attempts to cope with a sudden breakup with her boyfriend Ivan (Fernando Guillén). While Pepa frantically attempts to reach Ivan and contemplates suicide in response, she is interrupted by her friend who also is also suffering from her own relationship problems. As the day goes on, an unlikely string of visitors arrive at Pepa’s apartment and set in motion a deranged farce of odd connections and frustrated passions.

Women on the Verge brought Almodóvar, already well known in Spain, international fame with its manic humor and rich visuals. The film marked a turning point in his career, departing from urban black comedies to this dreamlike vision with a lighter touch that shows the absurd ways women hurt for love and the hilarities that arise from this desperation.


“A love letter to cinema and post-Franco Spain, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown is an ebullient comedy propelled at a manic clip, drenched in colors so rich they seem edible.” — Jake Cole, Slant Magazine

“Pedro Almodóvar leaves black comedy behind in his fabulous ’50s-ish caprice. In this glossy delight, it’s as if Doris Day had been brought forward in time and confronted with the consequences of living in sin.” — Rita Kempley, Washington Post

“This is the movie that established him as the great filmmaker he is known as today. With this comedy, he announced to us that he had no intention of confining himself to a single genre… Almodóvar’s cinema is as local as it is universal.” — Elvira Lindo, Criterion

Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown