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  • Austin Elston

A Guide to Well Rounded Cinematic Education #2

The thing about Film Criticism is that Film Criticism wants to be right at the expense of the artist, and it doesn't leave a lot of room for the audience to just explore what the piece of art means to us over time. Give art time to settle with you. Go for a walk. Talk it over with a friend. Explore what the piece said to you, and see if that matters. It doesn't have to, but your first response should not necessarily be your only response.

Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (dir. Pedro Almodóvar)

What I Like About Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown: It knows what type of film it is - Melodrama. Every film should know what it's about. (It should also know how it is about what it is about.) This is the type of film where everything and everyone is related. This might seem like a convenience, but that's only because it is and it's suppose to be. That's the craftsmanship of Almodóvar at work. The film is fun and dynamic because of all the conveniences within the narrative. It's fun to play along as all the goofiness and contrivances are played out.

I feel like I get to play along. I find myself saying:

'Of course those two people are dating - why wouldn't they be?'

'Of course he's that guys kid.'

'That's what the Gazpacho's for.'

Everything in this film has its use and its place. And that's marvelous.

What to Look For: The speed of the narrative. I find that when we talk about energy in a film what we're really talking about is the speed of the narrative. What I mean by this is how quickly events occur in the story. Almodóvar is incredibly expeditious in his use of story in this film. How the film moves from one event to the next has a specific story and character logic to it. What those events have to say about the characters. In what order we gather that information. How that order informs us how to feel about the situation and the characters that is playing out in front of us.

It's so quick, and fun.

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