Spain, 1988, 88 min, Dir. Pedro Almodóvar, Rated R, Spanish with English subtitles
“Mr. Almódovar sets out to charm rather than shock. That he succeeds should not come as a surprise.” – Vincent Canby, The New York Times
“A feminist comedy with real bite; it always brings down the house.” – Michael Wilmington, Chicago Tribune
Television actress Pepa (Carmen Maura) is desperate because her boyfriend Iván (Fernando Guillén) is about to fly to Stockholm with a new girlfriend. Pepa must track him down to deliver a message: she’s pregnant. Hilarious and mind-boggling events enter the picture: Pepa’s close friend Candela (María Barranco) might have gotten herself involved in a terrorist plot; a real estate agent sends Iván’s son Carlos (Antonio Banderas) to check out Pepa’s apartment; Carlos’s girlfriend Marissa (Rossy de Palma) accidentally downs a pitcher of substance-infused gazpacho; and a taxi driver with a passion for mambo keeps appearing to give Pepa a ride. Is it possible to avoid a nervous breakdown with all the madness spiraling out of control? This absurd comedy was an international hit, winning multiple Spanish Goya Awards and garnering an Academy Award nomination.
There’s no greater joy for a film programmer than to come across a totally original filmmaker, in complete command of his domain, whose work resembles no one else’s. Such was my elation at discovering the films of Pedro Almodóvar and programming them - for the first time in the U.S. - starting in 1984, year one of the Miami Film Festival. Today, he’s not only the most celebrated Spanish filmmaker, but one of the world’s greatest directors, period. Our series surveys ten classics made over the course of 25 years, and feature not only his famous ensemble, fondly referred to as chicos y chicas Almodóvar, but also actors like Antonio Banderas, Penélope Cruz and Javier Bardem who went on to international stardom.
CGAC Director of Programming Nat Chediak was founder/director of the Miami Film Festival (1984-2001).
Program notes adapted from MoMA’s Almodóvar retrospective.