|WHAT HAVE I DONE TO DESERVE THIS? (QUE HE HECHO YO PARA MERECER ESTO?) (director/writer: Pedro Almodovar; cinematographer: Angel Luis Fernandez; editor: Jose Salcedo; music: Bernardo Bonezzi; cast: Carmen Maura (Gloria), Veronica Forque (Cristal), Angel de Andres Lopez (Antonio), Chus Lampreave (Grandmother), Kiti Manver (Juani), Juan Martinez (Toni), Miguel Angel Harranz (Miguel), Katia Loritz (Ingrid Muller), Luis Hostalot (Police Inspector Polo), Gonzalo Suarez (Lucas), Emilio Gutierrez (Pedro), Amparo Soler Leal (Patricia), Ryo Hiruma (Profesor Kendo), Cecilia Roth (Chica anuncio), Sonia Holimann (Vanessa), Javier Gurruchaga (Dentist), Jaime Chavarri (Striptease Client); Runtime: 101; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Tadeo Villalba; Tartan Video; 1984-Spain-in Spanish with English subtitles)|
by Dennis Schwartz
writer-director Pedro Almodovar ("High
Heels"/"Bad Education"/"All About My Mother"), for his
fourth feature, shoots a plot-less, episodic, vacant
black comedy about a long-suffering cleaning lady
housewife, Gloria (Carmen Maura), addicted to No-Doze,
who sells her queer teen son Miguel (Miguel Angel
Harranz) to a horny gay dentist (Javier Gurruchaga),
and snaps one day and accidentally kills her
insensitive chauvinistic cabbie husband, Antonio (Angel
de Andres Lopez), with a ham bone using a
kendo-chop, after he arranges to meet his
ex-girlfriend, Ingrid Muller (Katia
Loritz), a German second-rate actress who
admired Hitler, on her visit to Madrid.
unhappy family live in a cramped apartment in a Madrid
hi-riser that faces the noisy freeway. Her 14-year-old
son Toni (Juan Martinez) is
illiterate like dad and learns from dad how to be a
forger. The kid makes money selling weed. Also
residing there is Gloria's eccentric mother-in-law (Chus
Lampreave), who collects big sticks found
in the park and rescues a lizard found in the street,
she names Money, and brings the reptile home as a pet.
The unhappy Granny yearns to return to her
The amoral melodrama is filled with scatological humor and absurd vignettes that offer relentless tasteless comedy bits, where there are such incidents as Gloria asked by her aspiring actress prostitute neighbor Cristal (Veronica Forque) to sit in on an exhibitionist client (Jaime Chavarri) who requests an audience; a middle-aged failed writer, Lucas (Gonzalo Suarez), a married neighbor of Antonio, who is trying to get him to forge Hitler's memoir and make a fortune selling it to a publisher; an insulting seamstress (Kiti Manver) neighbor's abused little girl (Sonia Holimann), who can use her telekinetic skills for good or bad purposes; Gloria, while working as a cleaning lady for a Kendo dojo instructor (Ryo Hiruma), is fucked in the shower by one of the participants; and the impotent investigating police inspector (Luis Hostalot), who was coincidentally the one in the shower room with Gloria, is now the one investigating her husband's death and has eyes for Cristal.
inconsequential pic aims to depict the many injustices
and poor living conditions of the hardworking
working-class woman, who loses her family because
she's working an 18-hour day and becomes to busy to
look after them properly. The problem is that Almodovar
seems more interested in exploiting his subject's
suffering for comedy purposes than offering real
sympathy. The director shows flashes of greatness,
but the vignettes are too carelessly executed. Almodovar
seems too emotionally detached from the woman he
wants us to pity and his story telling is too messy.
It was the first Almodovar picture to
be released theatrically in the U.S. and pleased the
large festival crowds.
REVIEWED ON 3/2/2014 GRADE: C+
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ