Mujeres al borde de un ataque de nervios (1988)

“Mujeres al borde de un ataque de nervios” (1988 )


Dubbed intentions

Every true artist trusts, to more or less extent, in his intuition. There are those whose magic lies almost entirely in the choices they make out of intuition. It’s marvelous to be able to trust someone’s intuition (even more when our own intuition works). Than we have those who start over a rational basis, and only after creating a safe net on which they can trust do they put something of their deep feelings over it. I think this second definition suits the vast majority of creative minds. For a long time i thought Almodóvar belonged to the first kind of director. After seeing this film i definitely place him in the second kind. For an uninformed viewer, such as i was when i got into the world of Almodóvar’s films, he can look as if there was no specially recognizable structure underneath what you get. My recent viewings of some of his films convinced me otherwise, this one specially. This is a film in which (unlike his other films) the mechanics of the story has to do with how facts unfold. It’s comedy alright, and it builds a world of linked coincidences and facts that always come to be important, further in the story.

So we have a narrative made of coincidences, circular stories, and intersections. The first 5 or 6 minutes of the film (including the initial credits) are specially marvelous in the way we get to see this. We have a pop montage of magazine cuts, pieces of lives, faces, coloured bits. This introduces us to the pace of the film, which is frantic in comedy sense (this shows through the story, not the editing). Than we have an introduction to our central character, around which everything revolves: she dubs films, which means she lends her voice to other bodies. She was (we come to understand) the lover of a man who does the same. And we get a marvelous piece of film, in which we follow our voice off dubbing, and the film she is dubbing, already with the translated line. She is dubbing alone, the male voice is silent. This is exquisite work. A fantastic scene. It got me into the mood, i thought. This because we are deceived by this first scene. Next to this, it turns to a comedy environment (tracking American screwball comedies, this is assumed by Almodóvar).

The major cinematic concerns in every film by Pedro Almodóvar is on working narrative in ways that are new, seductive, and visual. All his films (specially those of the 80′) were pure experiments, completely different from the previous one. There, Pedro was more attached to a certain mood, a certain psychedelic way of living, certainly derived to his experience inside the Movida, Madrid’s underground of the 70′. Nevertheless he was already trying build new cinematic narrative forms. There is a certain aspect that happens in all of his films, despite the differences between them: he likes the idea of having actors whose characters perform. Actresses playing actresses, characters pretending to be something else. His narrative mood has really much to do with this. Here he is very intelligent in the depiction of this aspect. The first scene i mentioned establishes this, the mad mother who pretends to be sane in order to fulfill her madness does it, and the film has an unfolding moment in a scene where everybody is acting and lying to the police. Near the beginning, the mad woman (who pretends to live 20 years before her time) says to her father: “You lie so well, dad! That’s why i like you”. Almodóvar wrote the script…

The flaw here is that everything is mechanic. This development through circular coincidences, and a hidden plot that comes to unfold and reveal us the truth is not exactly in line with the best visual efforts of Almodóvar. I think he knows that, he even stated that this script was a lot easier to write than that of, for example, Kika (a lot more implicit in its narrative content). So, narratively, this IS Almodóvar, but not his best. But it has beautiful strokes, underlined intentions, and i will take those first minutes with me wherever i go.

My opinion: 4/5

This comment on IMDb


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