Reviews and notes
In introducing WHAT HAVE I DONE TO DESERVE THIS?!!
to the festival audience at Montreal, helmer Pedro Almoldovar said he didn't know whether he'd made a comedy or a tragedy. Most people would say the former, as this enjoyably bizarre tale of a Madrid housewife has plenly of laughs, though no denying an undercurrent of a more serious message.
Gloria, splendidly played by Carmen Maura, has a chauvinist husband, Antonio, who drives a taxi and gets involved in a strange plot to forge Ietters supposedly wrltten by Adolf Hitter. Gloria's two sons are as mixed up as their father; one, aged 12, is a heroin dealer, while the younger seems to have gay tendencies and gets "adopted" by a Ietcherous dentist. AIso living in the cramped apartment is Gloria's batty, myopic mother-in-law, who has a pet lizard she calls Dinero (Money). As if that weren't enough, one neighbor is a hooker while another is a bluenose whose daughter has mystical powers.
There are other strange characters, too, floating through this fast-paced tragi-farce which is sometimes bawdy, often tasteless, but never dull. This kind of comedy is very much a matler of taste. Helping it along is the photography of Angel Luis Fernandez - all bright primary colors - and the jaunty music of Bernardo Bonezzi. Indeed, all credits are tops.
Almodovar has lots of serious points to make about sexism and the non-liberated Spanish housewife, as well as whal's happening to families, especially kids, these days. He tends rather to overburden the plot with too many characters, but gets his quota of entertainment from his basically serious theme.
Among the highlights are a parody of a tv commercial for coffee which features leading Spanish actress Cecilia Roth, and a very funny scene in which helmer Jaime Chavarri gets to act the role of one of Ihe hooker's more outrageous clients.
- Strat, Variety, August 29, 1984.
Weblink: Review by Emanuel Levy
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