Mujeres al Borde de un Ataque de Nervios (or Women on the Verge
of a Nervous Breakdown) doesn’t just have one jilted woman. It has three.
Pepa (Carmen Maura) is an actress whose lover, Iván (Fernando Guillén),
has decided to leave. He leaves the message on her answering machine and asks her to
pack his things and leave them with the doorman. She’s convinced that Iván has left with
his ex-wife, and she’s determined to get him back—or maybe just give him a piece of her
mind. She’s never quite sure.
Elsewhere in town, Iván’s ex-wife, Lucía
(Julieta Serrano) returns from her extended stay in a mental institution to find that
Iván has left. She’s convinced that he’s left with Pepa, and she’s determined to
confront Pepa and find Iván back.
Meanwhile, Pepa’s friend Candela (María
Barranco) decides to go into hiding at Pepa’s penthouse. Candela is convinced that the
police will be looking for her soon, since she’s been housing her lover and his
friend—both of whom are Shiite terrorists, plotting to hijack a plane. Since he used her
for a place to stay and then ran off to hijack planes, Candela’s pretty sure that he
won’t hesitate to turn her in.
So as Pepa obsesses over Iván, waiting for
him to call again, flip-flopping from grief to hatred, Lucía tries to hunt her down,
Candela tries to throw herself from the balcony, and Iván’s son, Carlos (a young Antonio
Banderas), shows up, looking to rent Pepa’s penthouse.
may be slow—and rather confusing—in the beginning, but stick with it. As the action
picks up, you’ll suddenly find yourself in a flurry of flaming beds, confused cops, a
quirky mambo-loving cabdriver, sleeping-pill-laced gazpacho—and lots of crazy jilted
They say that hell has no fury like a woman scorned—but multiply
that by three, and you’ve got total insanity. Mujeres al Borde de un Ataque de
Nervios is fun and campy—almost like a ‘60s comedy, only darker. It’s wild and
colorful and frantic and just plain absurd. And when it comes to the jilting of
passionate yet mentally unstable women, it just doesn’t get any crazier than this.
For those of you who aren’t fluent in Spanish—and who tend to fear
subtitles—you can even choose to watch the English dubbed version (but keep in mind that
some of the insanity may get lost in translation).