What Have I Done to Deserve This? (1984) Poster

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10/10
A forgotten masterpiece!
dgabunia6 September 2006
Early Almodovar is something that always keeps me fascinated! He's absolutely free of all his refined technical skills (latest films) and a real "hooligan", provoking, and full of brilliant jokes. "What have I done to deserve this?" is one of my top-Almodovar films, due to magnificent acting of Carmen Maura but not only. Almodovar, not yet burdened by the reputation of "maestro" is extremely free in expression, he does everything what is allowed and "not allowed" to do in cinema. Terrific mixture of Italian neo-realism, (remember the last episode, when Carmen sees off her family and returns home..) marvelous sarcasm, parody on intellectual cinema, and a tart-like melodrama with too much sugar. This is called Almodovar, a genius who is not afraid to seem foolish and therefore never seems foolish. A genius of KITSCH!

Haven't seen this film yet? What a lucky one you are! Be prepared for unforgettable impressions. And finally: Highly recommended for those who enjoyed "VOLVER" (these two films have much in common)
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I love this guy!
KGB-Greece-Patras16 September 2004
By far not my best Almodovar film, but it is a winner as is! The more films I get to see from this one-of-a-kind (as all pioneers!) director, the more I love his work.

In this 4th film of his, he starts out with his usual absurd, peculiar humour and his trademark hilarious characters. If you have seen any of these other films of his: 'Pepi, Luci, Bom and Other Girls on the Heap', 'Labyrinth of passion', 'Kika', 'Matador', 'Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown' plus more, you know what to expect. Almodovar humour is unique and it's here. The big difference in this one is that from a point and on, Almodovar fits in a sad tone, slowing the pace down and converting the film to a drama half-way - despite the fact he does not leave out some humour element - in this very special Almodovar way.

I suppose this should do also for people who didn't like half of Almodovar films (the more offensive ones), maybe because things are more serious in this or maybe because one can distinguish the director's point more easily than in other, more hillariously absurd, almost surreal ones.
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8/10
A Desperate Housewife
nycritic24 November 2006
Warning: Spoilers
With this film, John Waters and Pedro Almodovar,whether they were aware of it or not, showed how close in sensibility they were to the sheer zaniness of family dysfunction -- at times, the incidents of Almodovar's WHAT HAVE I DONE TO DESERVE THIS nearly mirrors the incidents of Waters' POLYESTER in the fact that it's a hilarious and often wicked portrayal of a Spanish family having a spectacular meltdown full of crazy while the housewife tries to maintain hers at all costs. Gloria (Carmen Maura), the housewife in question, has an addiction to No-Doz pills. Her husband Antonio (Angel de Andres Lopez) works as a taxi driver and has a plan involving the forgery of Hitler's diary. Gloria has two sons -- neither on a good path, one being a pusher, the other a prostitute. Her meddling mother (Chus Lampreave), a female neighbor and friend who also works as a prostitute (Veronica Forque), and a weird little girl who lives upstairs with her control-freak mother (Kiti Manver) add to the convoluted mess that soon is out of control and treading some rather risky grounds. However, Almodovar clearly made this movie as a way to express an irreverent sensibility of overblown urban dramas just before he exploded unto cinematic consciousness in his internationally acclaimed WOMEN ON THE VERGE OF A NERVOUS BREAKDOWN. Like the early films of Waters, this is his way of giving the entire film and TV community the finger -- watch how he uses Cecilia Roth in a coffee commercial or how he casts himself and another man to play the part of man and woman in a video called "La Bien Pagá". Cheeky and quirky, indeed.
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9/10
Deep movie
adamgp27 October 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I don't think I spoil anything, but I am just covering myself here...

The true value in this movie lies in watching it twice. Almodovar re-inscribes Italian Neorealism from the 1950s in the Spain post-Franco. The neorealist shots of el barrio on the ring road surrounding Madrid are symbolic, as is the lizard, the grandmother, and the song on the television. With a background of Spain during the Franco years, one can appreciate this film much more. There are also deeply surreal moments, which give the viewer a voyeuristic sensation of watching "cinema within cinema." The presence of Germany is also wide open to interpretation, as it could mean Spain's classic philosophical problem of "la Espana invertebrada" and never having the "eye," or the intellectual advancement, that the Germans had. This movie also touches on the issue of Rural/City which was so prevalent after Franco's time, where the city had come to be associated with corruption. One asks, at the end of the film, if maybe the city is not as giving of opportunity as the optimistic Spaniards would like to think. Or is it?
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10/10
Another Jewel in Pedro Almodóvar's Crown!
gradyharp14 September 2006
Though the films by one of our geniuses of film-making in our times, Pedro Almodóvar, is making films now that are polished to perfection - Volver (2006), La Mala educación (2004), Hable con ella (2002), and Todo sobre mi madre (1999) - his early films such as this one '¿Qué he hecho yo para merecer esto!!' in retrospect contained all the identifying marks that would establish him as not only one of the bad boys of cinema, but also one of the sensitive cinematic psychologists. And everything he touches gleams.

In this 1984 story of a wildly dysfunctional family co-habiting in Madrid, the star is Gloria (Carmen Maura), a No-Doz addicted maid living in a tiny flat with her taxi driver/forger husband who perseverates on an aging German chanteuse for whom he once worked, two sons - one a hustler and the other a drug peddler - and a wacko mother-in-law who treats food like contraband, selling what she chooses to the family members. The turning point in this raucously fragile but funny family is the chance to make money: the father is coerced into forging Hitler's memoirs with a little help from his German chanteuse's influence, Gloria bargains with a dentist for her hustler son's possession, ad infinitum!

But leave it to Almodóvar to pull it all off with just the right amount of madness and mayhem, and a jolly dollop of psychology about family interaction and women thrown in for good measure. The cast is a delight (including Almodóvar regulars Cecilia Roth and Verónica Forqué!) and the movie is so fast paced that it feels like a carnival ride - which is very much the way this marvelous director sees his early work. Highly recommended.
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10/10
The funny side of every tragedy
simsible5 October 2007
Being a Spaniard, when you listen to Pedro talking, you realize he can't help being constantly comical, even though he tried to be serious about any matter.

But one knows for sure he is always concerned about social, religious and political issues, putting himself always in favor of those marginal, poor, alternative, or simply average, on its last legs. THIS is the case of Gloria's story, the modest and invisible woman cleaning your apartment who never shared a word about herself.

PEDRO is proud of this film, because it set a point of very beginning in his career, leaving behind some successful punky jokes and presents his work with ambition. He will show from now on his fondness for Hollywood, for Douglas Sirk melodramas, also for ancient south American boleros lyrics, brought to life. He never gave up being comical, of course, but now is not the end of it all.

(I never compare "Qué he hecho yo…" with "Volver", although some plot lines are very similar, you could put all together into the particular universe of the author, while Raimunda is a very ardent portrait of a colorful, brave and beautiful mother, Gloria is a weak invisible woman snowed under some universe plan against her.

This is Almodovar's canon: He is trying to get every person watching his movies knowing NOT what to do, if cry or laugh or mix together in an awkward feeling, stimulating therefore some brainstorm into him or better: to her. (Pedro talks to women and talks about women, men can watch.) He shows tragedy, and then finds some funny side of it all, and makes you feel awful for being laughing at some silly thing that happened in the middle of disaster, and then drama flows again. Only women tend to be so complex to do that. Men are dull and emotionally uninteresting. So NO, this is not a Comedy. It is a funny Tragedy.

Almodovar's eyes always remain amazed at this world of fools, where crazy circumstances and coincidences seem to happen together against you.

Look into your maid's life. Yes, she may hide a fantastic story. Talk to her.
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10/10
The best movie by Pedro Almodovar
gareth3es26 July 2001
It's difficult to find such a great film, I had seen most of the Almodovar's pieces before I saw this one, and it is strange to see that after that one he has done beautiful jobs, although they haven't been as good as this one. Performances are incredible, the script is awesome, Almodovar can combine comedy and drama in a sad story about a mature woman who is alone in the world.This is a very sad story, far away from other Almodovar works which are more in the way of the comedy. Carmen Maura makes here one of the most impressive roles of her career,she;s very strong and credible like Gloria,the neighbouring place,the supporting characters are all brilliant,and it also contains a very short but beautiful soundtrack according very well to the movie. I liked a lot Veronica Forque, Chus Lampreave and Kiti Manver. The movie has also some moments that can be surrealistic experiences that makes the story incredibly real. "Que he hecho yo para merecer esto" is without doubts the best film ever made by Pedro Almodovar, is perfect, the dramatic moments are so intense, and very credible, surrounded by comic situations that make it even more beautiful, it is a master piece, a must see movie.
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7/10
Early Volver
lastliberal29 September 2007
One thing about Pedro Almodovar's films is that they are never boring. Another is that women do whatever they need to do to get by. This film is no different and it is almost as if he followed the theme here with Volver. In fact, the star of this film, Carmen Maura, is also in Volver.

Gloria (Carmen Maura) does whatever she needs to do to get by, whether it is popping No-Doze or sniffing glue. She works constantly to provide for her family, as her no-good husband (Ángel de Andrés López) is not pulling his weight.

One son sells dope and the other likes to have sex with his friend's fathers. Grandma (Chus Lampreave) sits around talking about the village.

Her best friend Cristal (Verónica Forqué - Matador) is a prostitute.

Almodovar presents an upside down world where everything is exaggerated. This is a thinking man's movie. You really have to pay attention to get it. That is not to say it is not enjoyable, but you miss a lot by not fully participating.

You notice that Cristal is a lot more mentally healthy that Gloris; that her son is not a victim, but in charge of his sexuality; and there is enough other things going on to really keep you interest.

Almodovar is never boring.
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7/10
Early Almodóvar: twisted and funny
kayester23 January 2004
I found myself wrapped up in this off-beat movie, off-beat that is, for anyone but Almodóvar in the mid 1980s. For him, this one was sort of tame. It's populated by an Almodovaran crowd of demimonde, and struggling proletarians and intellectuals. Some take drugs to get by, some sell drugs but won't take them. Sex is a commodity, and honor a dubious value. The struggle to survive in a harsh urban environment ought not be as comic as this often is, so it's not surprising when Almodóvar brings a little emotional sustenance to leaven the pessimism. But nobody in this film should be taken at face value, least of all the director, and nothing should be taken too seriously. It's fun, and in the end, that's enough.
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8/10
A masterpiece of Pedro Almodovar
nulukthet8 December 2004
This is certainly one of Almodovar's best movies. It has more than the average movie and is actually life as it is on many occasions. The thin but very subtle humor in all of his movies and the personages in the movies make him a master director who knows what's going on in life at the moment of making a film. Very much it is story about people living together but don't know each-other. With slices of sex, drugs, addiction, humor he brings you to a thin laugh although most problems in the movie are real problems and aren't to be taken lightly. A film of making choices in life and go further and stand with this choices, and keep on smiling and hoping whatever happens.
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8/10
Not just a great song by Pet Shop Boys (and Dusty Springfield)
natashabowiepinky3 September 2013
Hands down one of the best films I've seen this year, that Spanish oddball director Pedro Almodóvar has really let rip in this early effort of his. On the surface it's a pretty straightforward tale of an abused wife being given the runaround by her ungrateful family, but look closer and you'll find a real inspired lunacy behind every innocuous scene. Lizards, Kendo, Hitler's diary forgeries and pedophilia all get random lip service here, amongst other such nonsense. Normally, this would be seen as over-embellishment on the part of the makers, but here it weaves such an absorbing tapestry that it, in addition to the wacky characters, creates an irresistible whole.

I was shocked at a somewhat supernatural occurrence during the latter portion, but in retrospect it fits the film's motto which seems to be 'Anything Goes'. Another slogan could be 'Never A Dull Moment' as, no matter which weird individual the movie cuts to, we're sure we will be in store for some unexpected delights. It's rare to put so much insanity on screen, and yet have it all come off. Something like this is right up my alley, and I'm off now to seek out other examples of this nutcase's work. Fortunately, I have a box set. HUZZAH!! 8/10
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6/10
Offbeat black comedy about an occupied housewife becomes involved with family problems and Hitler's diaries
ma-cortes13 July 2014
Off-the-wall typical Spanish housewife (Carmen Maura , though Esperanza Roy and Concha Velasco turned down the role) is an lowly maid in Madrid , here she scrapes to get by and help her two useless sons , a young junkie called Javi and a gay boy who sleeps with men , living in a crowded as well as small apartment with her self-reliant grandma (Chus Lampreave) and Antonio (Angel Andres Lopez) , her sadist husband , a Taximan and also a forger who adores an aging German singer named Ingrid Muller (Katia Loritz) he used to chauffeur . One teen son is a druggie and sells dope , the other has rare hobbies and Gloria subsequently has given away in adoption . As her family situation goes from bad to worse , her travails inspire other people and befriends her next door prostitute named Crystal (Veronica Forque , though Angela Molina and Victoria Abril turned down the role , as the latter didn't want to play another whore , having just played one recently) . Gloria works as a maid , cleaning houses for bourgeois families (Gonzalo Suarez , Amparo Soler Leal) and craves a better life . Two alcoholic men cook up a scheme to sell a manuscript as Hitler's memoirs, if the taxi-driver will transcribe it in Hitler's hand . Antonio agrees, so they ask the German singer Muller (Katia Loritz) to play the character of the original owner since her past affinity for Nazi memorabilia makes her a likely candidate .

Agreeable film full of feeling , outlandish characters , haunting mood-pieces , Spanish Neo-realism , fun scenes, strange humor and sense of style but not totally satisfactory , including conventional pitfalls . The picture deals with drama , off-the-wall comedy , absurdities familiar , mad inversions , murder by Hambone and many other things ; featuring a feminist heroine of classical proportions . The picture is pretty well but turns out to be inferior to Almodovar's previous and subsequent entries . The result is undiluted scabrous comedy , profanities , perverted sex with short , sharp images and a crazy strings of plots . It's a piquant look at lower classes involving twists and an intrigue about the forging of Hitler's diaries and keeping a neighbour company during her bonking hour . Nice interpretations by all cast , as Carmen Maura as Gloria , mother of a dysfunctional family in Madrid , she is a cleaning lady , Maura playing very well her various trials and escapades , Angel De Andres Lopez as her surly husband cabby , Chus Lampreave as weird mother-in-law who picks up a pet lizard and keeps bottled water and cupcakes under lock and key . Furthermore , Kiti Manver , Gonzalo Suarez , Emilio Gutierrez Caba , Cecilia Roth , Veronica Forque , Javier Gurruchaga as a sex-crazed dentist and other delightfully played roles .

The motion picture was realized in his traditional style by Pedro Almodovar ; he often uses symbolism and metaphorical techniques to portray circular story lines . Almodovar directs throughout with splendid zip and he usually portrays strong female characters and transsexuals . His first feature film, Pepi, Luci, Bom (1980), was made in 16 mm and blown-up to 35 mm for public release. In 1987, he and his brother Agustín Almodóvar established their own production company: El Deseo, S. A. The "Almodóvar phenomenon" has reached all over the world, making his films very popular in many countries. Pedro subsequently made successes such as Labyrinth of passions , Law of desire , Women Women on the verge of a nervous breakdown , Bad education , All about my mother , Talk to her , Broken embraces , The Skin I Live In and many others .
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8/10
Fabulous!!!
pinkymp20 April 2006
I loved it, it is pure Almodovarian genius! This really embraces everything that Pedro Almodovar stands for, setting out to include every social taboo in the book, but presenting it in a manner which, although shocking, doesn't seem to be making a social comment. More structured than earlier films, although not making as much of a comment about the "transition to democracy" period, which has by this point pretty much passed. It is a spectacular work of social realism which shows how much Spanish attitudes were still anchored in the past, whilst forever striving to become modern.

You'd have to be totally crazy not to love it!
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Narrative Eye
tedg30 July 2006
I loved this. It isn't so great compared to later projects where he knows how to use knives instead of chalk. And he decides to understand women, instead of understanding their luggage.

But this is better in a way because you can see the man, what a friend calls the exposed plumbing of what later would become a polished structure.

Stories in Almodovar's soul, that wonderful soul, appear first as images that only after they crack their shells into the fluttering wind of sight do they loose into their narrative trajectory. Sight first, then narrative. But because the narrative comes directly from the cinematic, it flows with an unusual naturalness. It drives into complexities, even emotion depths. It becomes surreal in places, but it all seems natural because it flows from the image within.

And that gives us another advantage. Nearly all films about love and women begin all their major strokes from the written or spoken word and the situations that grow out of them. That means in film that we are stuck with a limited vocabulary and set of patterns that not only dull with repetition, but aren't cinematic at root.

Even in this early film, you can see that because these eyesweets were never touched by pen, they are all fresh without leaving what we accept as true. Its quite an achievement.

The standout performance? A ten year old redhead with "powers," and around whom everything happens. She may be the cause.

Ted's Evaluation -- 3 of 3: Worth watching.
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7/10
The Tragicomic Adventures of a Housewife in Madrid
claudio_carvalho14 October 2012
In Madrid, the housewife Gloria (Carmen Maura) lives in a tiny apartment with her husband, the taxi driver and forger Antonio (Angel de Andres- Lopez); her lunatic mother-in-law, who is addicted in bottled water and cupcakes; and two teenage sons, one of them a drug dealer and the other gay.

Gloria works as cleaning lady to raise some money for her dysfunctional family and is addicted in pills; her best friend is her neighbor, the call-girl Cristal (Verónica Forqué). Antonio has a secret passion on a decadent German singer for whom he had worked as driver in Germany. A writer tries to convince Antonio to forge letters from Hitler and travels to Germany to meet the singer to invite her to participate in the scheme. Meanwhile Gloria delivers her gay son to a pervert dentist. Her mother-in-law finds a lizard while walking with her grandson on the street and they call it Dinero (Money) and bring it home. When Gloria has an argument with Antonio, she hits him on the head with a piece of wood, killing him. Now the police detectives investigate the murder case.

"¿Qué he hecho yo para merecer esto!!" (meaning "What did I do to deserve this?) is a tragicomic film by Almodóvar with the adventures of a housewife in Madrid. The situations are hilarious and absurd, and the characters are composed by a forger, a kleptomaniac, a drug-dealer, a homosexual, a prostitute, a psychic, a lunatic, an addicted, an impotent with premature ejaculation, an alcoholic writer, an abusive mother and so on. The result is really a funny and politically incorrect film of this anarchic director. My vote is seven.

Title (Brazil): "O Que Fiz Eu Para Merecer Isto?" ("What Did I do to Deserve This?")
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8/10
Early Almodovar - off the wallpapered wall
blanche-212 February 2016
I love Pedro Almodovar. He is a marvelous, fun, uninhibited filmmaker who has made so many great films, including "Woman on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown," "Volver," "All About My Mother," "Broken Embraces," and others.

This is an offbeat film about dysfunction like you've never seen it. OMG. Carmen Maura plays Gloria, who is addicted to No-Doz and works as a maid in Madrid. She's married to a jerk who drives a taxi and is a forger. He's crazy over a German singer, his former employer.

The couple has two sons. One is a gay hustler, and the other sells drugs.

Her mother-in-law lives with them, a woman who is constantly trying to obtain food as if it's gold and then sells it to the family.

Now they have a good chance at some big money, when Gloria's husband has a chance to forge Hitler's memoirs and have his old employer pretend to be the owner. Gloria also gives her hustler son to her dentist. You read that right.

Gloria's best friend is her neighbor, the hilarious Cristal, a call girl who wants to go to Vegas. Her other neighbor has a young child that she's awful to, at least verbally, but the child has magic powers.

I did say it was off the wall.

In the midst of all this, there is drama and poignancy of a woman doing anything she can to survive in the city during Franco's regime.

Someone said that the way Almodovar sets things up, you don't know whether to laugh or cry. But if you do both, there may just be a solution.

You have to take Almodovar as he is - wild, funny, with a message about humanity there. This film is outrageous. I loved it.
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9/10
What have I done to deserve this?
Tweekums29 September 2018
Mostly set in a small Madrid apartment, this film is centred on cleaner Gloria. She lives there with her taxi driver husband, their two sons and her mother in law. Her life is ostensibly ordinary; she certainly doesn't see it as anything special but as the story progresses things get slightly surreal. Things aren't easy for her, the family is short of money and her husband doesn't approve of her working... especially for people recommended by Gloria's friend Cristal, the prostitute who lives next door. Things don't get any more normal when grannie brings home a lizard she found in the park and a neighbour suggests to Gloria's husband that he could use his skill for copying handwriting to help fake Hitler's memoirs to mention just a couple of events.

This film is classic Almodóvar with its strong female lead, played by regular collaborator Carmen Maura, and surreal things happening is what appears to be a very ordinary situation. These situations provide plenty of laughs even when things aren't going well for Gloria. Given how surreal things are it is surprising that it only slipped into silliness once; when it is revealed that a neighbour's daughter has telekinetic powers... and this was just a single scene. There is a sense of darkness as times, especially towards the end but the way it is depicted means it is never depressing. Carmen Maura does a fine job as Gloria, Verónica Forqué is a delight as Cristal and Chus Lampreave is very funny as the grandmother. Overall I'd certainly recommend this, especially to fans of Almodóvar's other films.

These comments are based on watching the film in Spanish with English subtitles.
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8/10
A surreal but human family comedy from the young Almodovar
runamokprods22 July 2010
Warning: Spoilers
A very funny look at a very dysfunctional family.

(minor spoilers and give aways)

Mom ends up killing dad, one kid is a drug dealer, the other is a doctor's teenage gay lover, and their neighbor is a happy hooker. Sort of a family sit-com on acid. Some wonderful performances, and even moments real emotion sneaking in here and there.

It does start to wear down by the end, and doesn't add up to a lot (other than being part off the young Almodovar's stick in the eye of the old repressive Spanish order) , but it's unique and kind of lovable, like it's characters.
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7/10
For followers of the director and cinema in general; this interesting, grubby look at people at a specific time in a nation's history is worth seeing.
johnnyboyz14 January 2010
Pedro Almodóvar's 1984 film What Have I Done to Deserve This!? is as much as a mouthful as it is to say as it might be to entirely summarise. The sheer extravagancy of the title, which is '¿Qué he hecho yo para merecer esto!!' in Spanish, echoes the broad and rather open canvas on which the breakthrough Spanish director paints his portraits and the fates of an equally rather disparate group of Spaniards tumbling out of Franco's Spain. The setting is 1980s Madrid, the capital of a nation that has since come out of a political reign of a definitive sort and is now on the brink of ending three quarters of a decade under a fresher, freer political situation. This as the film covers two groups, indeed families or classes, whom have progressed out of the old times and into the new ones. As a whole, the film works as a somewhat sly comedy and pays substantial attention to Spain as a nation by way of its capital city and those that inhabit it.

The film opens with a collection of odd, colourful titles which is in direct contrast in terms of basic codes and conventions to the activity going on behind it; that being of a martial art variety in which shouting and the flinging around of wooden poles as a dozen or so people twist and turn in perfect unison is played out. Gloria (Maura), a middle-aged cleaner whom works at the recreation hall in which these people practice, reenacts what she observes in what is a rare moment during which we see her doing something that seems planned, ordained and conclusive. This fleeting moment of control and rhythm we see her engage in is in stark contrast to her chaotic home life, in which she must contend with two teenage sons whom are either homosexual or dealing drugs in their spare time; a brute of a husband, named Antonio (López), who wants to be with another woman but when he is with Gloria, makes love to her despite close family members being in near proximity as well as a mother-in-law named Abuela (Lampreave), who comes with her own quirks.

What Have I Done to Deserve This!? works as a character piece exploring the women in the film such as Gloria, her mother-in-law and neighbour Cristal (Forqué), who's additionally a prostitute. Most of the women in the film are good-natured and tend to lean more towards helping and aiding others as they stick together, their existence playing out amidst men, or indeed male characters, of whom are deeply flawed in their characteristics and attitudes as domestic violence; confusion over sexuality; paedophilia; drug infused lifestyles and infidelity are the majority of characteristics they embody.

Despite the sheer level of characters in the film, Almodóvar does a credible job in balancing the right amount of both introduction and progression required for each person. Antonio, for instance, is established to have known a German woman who was someone that was into Nazi memorabilia, but whom he drove around as a chauffeur many years ago and developed a bond with anyway. This, followed by scene in which he reiterates the importance of one's signature on a level with one's surname to one of his sons; an exchange in which the aim is to evoke a sense of individualism and identity, that you are one amongst the rest and ought to be proud of who you are. The link to the woman affiliated with the aforementioned woman is still fresh and sets up a relatively unnerving sense about Antonio, something that additionally arises later on to do with forgery of a German manuscript.

The characters in What Have I Done to Deserve This? walk rainy, grey and unwelcoming Spanish streets; the film is shot in a manner that acts as an anti-thesis to how tourists view Spain. The majority of the people in the film are poor; indeed Gloria's dysfunctional family we zero in on for the duration of the film turn to counterfeiting and drug dealing to sustain an income. Next door, Cristal entertains a number of male clients; one of which very early on is a supposedly well-off writer whose financial situation doesn't seem as desperate as everyone else's, but this doesn't, in any way at all, elevate him above those of Gloria's family as his infidelity and ideas of a criminal nature play out.

The film, in the nicest possible way, feels like three or four going on at once. There are moments, indeed a number of premises, which you feel would make films all by themselves; situations that Almodóvar could flesh out even more than what he does. This echoes what he does in his 2006 piece entitled Volver, in which three women come about a series of bizarre incidences but just seem to act around them rather than act because of them. Almodóvar does this as a director; keeping everything as low key as possible as content of a pretty disturbing nature such as the murder of one's partner and a drug dealing teenager just seems to 'happen' around this housewife and middle aged woman who lives in a crazy, mixed up world. Almodóvar doesn't exploit these things for sake of cheap laughs, instead opting to point out that these problems contained within Spain's society are still prominent, regardless of what positives one might take out of it being a decade on from Franco's regime. The film operates as a rather black comedy, as a somewhat stripped down drama with its fair share of powerful moments and as an interesting case study between classes and gender.
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There's nothing like a good narrative!
towerbridge11 March 2005
For me, and I think for most people, there's nothing like a good narrative.

And this film has exactly that: nothing like a good narrative.

In fact, its a real mess. For example, one character has an idea to make a lot of money, goes on a journey, comes back and what happens? Nada.

The later Almodovar films which I have seen - Women On The Verge Of A Mental Breakdown, All About My Mother and Talk To Her - are all much better for placing their observations and ironies within the context of an interesting story. (A similar comment could be made about Mike Leigh's films, namely that those which have a real story e.g. Secrets & Lies, are much superior to those which don't e.g. Naked, All Or Nothing...) I don't want to be completely dismissive of this film, which is energetic and iconoclastic, but rather to counterbalance the view of some others here that this film is a masterpiece. I say it isn't. Its an immature work of a very exceptional director.
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10/10
The best Almodovar condensed in just one film
pedrocarreno27 August 1999
Perhaps the most intelligent film ever made by Almodovar. Keen, sarcastic, ironic, plenty of details to discover every time, well acted, very well directed... It is a compendium of the new filming from Spain. And, of course, much better than his more commercial "Mujeres al borde de un ataque de nervios".
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9/10
Beautiful, touching and hilarious
dmrn-9161725 November 2016
This is one of Almodovar's best movie. And honestly one of the most beautiful movies ever made. It's at the same time funny and sad, surrealistic and hyper-realistic. Carmen Maura is a tragic character and she's a fantastic actress. Quirky ideas flow from all sides, strange characters, but none of them are out of place, because they are just humans: petty and sublime. There is no judgment in Almodovar movies. Things are what they are and therefore there is no ridicule. It's always amazing to wonder - what was this movie about? Pretty much nothing, just ordinary life, and yet it's full of events that are out of the ordinary.
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HELLPPP
flordemisecreto27 October 2004
I recently saw this movie, the first by Pedro Almodovar i've watched, and i absolutely loved it. It may not have been as well produced and highly revered as his other movies but thats what made it all the more an interesting and quirky personal discovery. The incorporation of the little girl with telekinetic powers spontaneously throughout the movie was hilarious, as was the fact that everything that she made float was blatantly on strings. ANYWAY! I've been going insane trying to figure out the name and artist of the song that's played during the ending scene of the movie (an instrumental with some sort of synthesizer?) It's so beautiful and fits perfectly with the scene. If anyone knows that info pleassseeee email it to me because, as mentioned, i love it! Thanks!
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6/10
Curiosity keeps you watching, but...
jaguarsansaimee6 February 2005
Warning: Spoilers
This is not my first Pedro Almodovar film...though I will claim it to be the first in which I was not really rallying for the heroine or any of the lead characters. What have I done to deserve this?? is based around a cleaning woman and her dysfunctional family, whose eccentric habits and dog-eat-dog attitudes to one another, leaves you curious as to what will take place next...but also robs you of any compassion that you wish to place on any of the central characters. In Almodovar's later films, the characters are -likewise- often carrying imperfections and/or secrets that make them one-of-a-kind individuals, but there is usually something integral in the plot or in the way the actor conveys him/herself that endears you and persuades you to root for them (as the underdog(s). My disappointment with this film is that there was no such investment to be made with this family. If you love Almodovar, this film is certainly full of his cryptic views on life, so it is well worth a viewing. The film veers as more a depressing comment than to the black comedy it intended to be.
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My favorite Almodovar movie
behindwalls28 August 2003
I tend to like shock value and this one is my favorite out of all of Almodovar films. Giving your son to a pedophyle? that's like when the characters are unaware that there's a bomb under the table. genius!
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