Pedro AlmodóvarSpain101 minutes1984ColourSpanish
Carmen Maura established herself as one of Almodóvar's leading muses in this blacker-than-black comedy about a beleaguered cleaning woman struggling to deal with her out-of-control domestic situation.
After featuring Carmen Maura in four of his films (including the memorably named 8mm item Fuck... Fuck... Fuck Me, Tim!), Almodóvar finally designed a vehicle especially for her, launching one of the richest actor-filmmaker collaborations in Spanish cinema. The blackest of black comedies, What Have I Done to Deserve This? stars Maura as Gloria, a beleaguered cleaning woman working 18-hour days fuelled by little more than Mother's Little Helpers. Her life in a faceless apartment complex on the edges of Madrid is defined by her uninterested chauvinist husband, her prostitute neighbour, and her two delinquent sons (the eldest sells drugs, the younger peddles his body to his friends' fathers) — and her plate only gets fuller when an impotent policeman, a telekinetic child and (a nod to Roald Dahl's "Lamb to the Slaughter") a rather large ham bone are added to the mix. "Carmen Maura is Mr. Almodóvar's secret weapon: grave, put-upon, curious funny, Woman Outraged, she carries the whole picture" (The New York Times).