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Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (1988)

Mujeres al borde de un ataque de nervios (original title)
Pepas's lover, Iván, leaves her and she tries to contact him to find out why he's left. In her search for Iván, she confronts his wife and son, who are as clueless as she is. Meanwhile; ... See full summary »




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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 21 wins & 22 nominations. See more awards »


Cast overview, first billed only:
Paulina Morales (as Kiti Manver)
Eduardo Calvo ...
Padre de Lucía (as Yayo Calvo)
Policía I (as Angel de Andrés-López)
Juan Lombardero ...
José Antonio Navarro ...
Policía II
Ana Leza ...


Pepas's lover, Iván, leaves her and she tries to contact him to find out why he's left. In her search for Iván, she confronts his wife and son, who are as clueless as she is. Meanwhile; Candela, her friend, is afraid the police might be looking for her because of her ex-boyfriend, a muslim terrorist, and his criminal activities. As the plot develops, it is revealed that everyone's lives are more intertwined than they could have ever expected. Written by Ed Sutton <esutton@mindspring.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Comedy | Drama


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

11 November 1988 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$700,000 (estimated)


$7,179,298 (USA)

Company Credits

Production Co:

,  »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


For a while the production of an American remake was considered, to be directed by Richard Benjamin, with Jane Fonda and Paula Prentiss in the roles respectively created by Carmen Maura and Julieta Serrano. See more »


In the minutes between Ivàn calling Pepa from the phone booth and hiding while she throws out his things, to Lucía and the police arriving at the apartment, the sky changes immediately from day to night. See more »


Iv·n: How many men have you had to forget?
Pepa: As many as the women you remember.
See more »


Puro teatro
Written by C. Curet Alonso
Performed by La Lupe
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User Reviews

Absurdism brought beautifully to the screen
18 September 2003 | by (Sydney, Australia) – See all my reviews

"Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown" is the first in hopefully what will be a long line of Almodovar films, I just watched it today at a free film screening when I was supposed to be seeing Fellini's 8 1/2 until the tape messed up. This was a very fine substitute.

The film contains all the elements of an absurdist play by the likes of Beckett, Stoppard or Ionesco. From its bizarre and essentially alienating dialogue, to its disjointed plot brought somewhat together by the end, it is an absolute delight to see such films around today.

All the characters are wonderfully developed and, like in a play, the narrative is light in plot but heavy in characters. It makes you think, not about the story it is telling since the story itself is ludicrous, and not about what is said for the same reason, but just about the way the characters interact with each other and how this can be applied to everyday life.

There are also some wonderful performances contained within. Each of the actors and actresses are so gutsy and alive inside this strange para-universe that Almodovar has created. It really is a treat to watch, with the persistently wry and often wildly ironic humour extracted to its full potential by the deadpan mock seriousness plastered across each character's face. It gives us a good laugh, not just at the film itself but at ourselves and the elements of us we can see in it. Plus the mambo cab is a dead-set winner.

After seeing this film, I am currently desperate to see another Almodovar. From this one piece I can see he is definitely a director worth celebrating and admiring and I will try to encourage many others to discover him for themselves. ****1/2 / *****

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