Repertory Picks

Screwball Almodóvar in Denver

On Saturday and then again on Monday, as part of a complete retrospective of the work of Pedro Almodóvar running throughout the month of August, the Denver Film Society’s Sie FilmCenter will show the Spanish director’s Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (1988). An international breakthrough for Almodóvar that became his first film to earn an Oscar nomination, this pitch-black comedy spiked with melodramatic flourishes revolves around a voice-over actress (frequent Almodóvar collaborator Carmen Maura) who finds herself at rock bottom after a breakup—though she’s soon distracted from her suicidal misery by the unexpected intrusion of a host of other lovelorn characters (played by a remarkable ensemble cast including Antonio Banderas and Rossy de Palma). In her liner essay for our edition of the film, novelist and critic Elvira Lindo observes that Women on the Verge reflected the vibrancy of a then-newly-democratic Spain while also drawing on one of the most hallowed of Hollywood traditions: the screwball farce. “Though nearly all the action . . . takes place in a theatrical space and has the unreal air of the old comedies by Preston Sturges, Howard Hawks, or George Cukor, the female characters are tied to their homeland by the way they speak,” she writes of the film, which above all serves as a celebration of “the expressiveness that characterizes Mediterranean women.”

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