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Pedro Almodóvar scored his first international hit with What Have I Done to Deserve This?, cementing his reputation as Spain's bad-boy director of darkly comedic melodramas. Many of the themes that dominate Almodóvar's later films are evident here, especially his sympathetic affection for downtrodden women like Gloria (Carmen Maura), an exhausted housewife who's addicted to No-Dōz tablets and spends 18-hour days cleaning apartments and tending (just barely) to her teenage sons (one deals drugs, the other offers sex to local perverts), neglectful husband, and looney-tunes mother-in-law--all of whom have a particular knack for getting on her nerves. Toss in a prostitute neighbor, an accidental murder, and a pet lizard named "Money," and you've got the makings of a soap opera by way of Luis Buñuel and John Waters, served up with Almodóvar's distinctive blend of compassionate humanity and kinky outrageousness. --Jeff Shannon
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