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In Madrid, the housewife Gloria lives in a tiny apartment with her husband, the taxi driver and forger Antonio; her lunatic mother-in-law, who is addicted in bottled water and cupcakes; and two teenage sons, one of them a drug dealer and the other gay. Gloria works as cleaning lady to raise some money for her dysfunctional family and is addicted in pills; her best friend is her neighbor, the call-girl Cristal. Antonio has a secret passion on a decadent German singer for whom he had worked as driver in Germany. A writer tries to convince Antonio to forge letters from Hitler and travels to Germany to meet the singer to invite her to participate in the scheme. Meanwhile Gloria delivers her gay son to a pervert dentist. Her mother-in-law finds a lizard while walking with her grandson on the street and they call it Dinero (Money) and bring it home. When Gloria has an argument with Antonio, she hits him on the head with a piece of wood, killing him. Now the police detectives investigate the...Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Though the films by one of our geniuses of film-making in our times, Pedro Almodóvar, is making films now that are polished to perfection - Volver (2006), La Mala educación (2004), Hable con ella (2002), and Todo sobre mi madre (1999) - his early films such as this one '¿Qué he hecho yo para merecer esto!!' in retrospect contained all the identifying marks that would establish him as not only one of the bad boys of cinema, but also one of the sensitive cinematic psychologists. And everything he touches gleams.
In this 1984 story of a wildly dysfunctional family co-habiting in Madrid, the star is Gloria (Carmen Maura), a No-Doz addicted maid living in a tiny flat with her taxi driver/forger husband who perseverates on an aging German chanteuse for whom he once worked, two sons - one a hustler and the other a drug peddler - and a wacko mother-in-law who treats food like contraband, selling what she chooses to the family members. The turning point in this raucously fragile but funny family is the chance to make money: the father is coerced into forging Hitler's memoirs with a little help from his German chanteuse's influence, Gloria bargains with a dentist for her hustler son's possession, ad infinitum!
But leave it to Almodóvar to pull it all off with just the right amount of madness and mayhem, and a jolly dollop of psychology about family interaction and women thrown in for good measure. The cast is a delight (including Almodóvar regulars Cecilia Roth and Verónica Forqué!) and the movie is so fast paced that it feels like a carnival ride - which is very much the way this marvelous director sees his early work. Highly recommended.
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