Learn Spanish with Almodóvar films!

Learn Spanish with Almodóvar films!

by Lingoda Team

Updated December 12, 2022

As we have mentioned in past articles, watching films in their original version or watching them with subtitles is a great way to improve your level of a foreign language whilst having fun. A few weeks ago we recommended you a few German movies and today we focus on the Spanish cinema.

When talking about the Spanish cinema, you cannot avoid talking about Pedro Almodóvar, the biggest film director from Spain, who has won the most prestigious awards, including two Academy Awards and has greatly contributed to the international success of Spanish film stars, such as Antonio Banderas and Penelope Cruz. His career started in the 80s and so far, includes 19 films, most of which reflect the realities and the underground culture of contemporary Spain and deal with topics such as sexual freedom or the problems faced by the LGBT community.

By watching Almodóvar films, you will not only improve your level of Spanish, but also reach a deeper understanding of the Spanish culture, customs and way of living. In this post, we have chosen 7 of the most defining movies of his filmography.

What Have I Done to Deserve This?
(¿Qué he hecho yo para merecer esto?)

Year 1984
Cast Carmen Maura, Ángel de Andrés, Verónica Forqué, Gonzalo Suárez

Madrid. The 80s. Gloria, a cleaning lady and housewife, lives in a 40m2 flat with her dysfunctional family: her husband, a taxi driver and forger who is having an affair with a German woman who persuades him to fake a manuscript from Hitler, her obsessive mother in law, the lizard she has as a pet and her two children, one gay and the other one a drug dealer.

Life has not been easy for her and things get even worse when she’s denied the amphetamines that help her to be awake and cope with all the stress. We won’t reveal what happens next… but it’s important to note that Gloria is a strong woman that has never given up on her fight for freedom – a typical character in Almodóvar films.

Click here to watch the trailer.

Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown
(Mujeres al borde de un ataque de nervios)

Year 1988
Cast Carmen Maura, Antonio Banderas, Rossy de Palma, María Barranco,

Pepa is left by her lover, Ivan, and she’s losing her mind, not even being able to contact him to ask him why and tell him she fears to be pregnant. In the meantime, Candela comes to her house looking for help, since she is afraid that the police is looking for her as she has been romantically involved with a Shia Islamic terrorist. Another visitor is Lucía, who was also Ivan’s lover twenty years ago and who is now determined to kill him before he hurts yet another woman.

This is a story about different lives that are more connected than expected. In this film, craziness, loneliness and passion play an important role, as well as a tasty gazpacho with Valium. The key message is one more time that women can be strong, independent and don’t need to be tied to any man. This movie was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.

Click here to watch the trailer.

All about my mother
(Todo sobre mi madre)

Year 1999
Cast Cecilia Roth, Maria Paredes, Antonia San Juan, Penélope Cruz

Manuela is a single mother who cries her eyes out and loses her will to live when her son Esteban is killed in a car accident. One of the lifelong wishes of her son was meeting his father, who he thought had died before he was born. However, it turns out Manuela lied about this the whole time.

After losing her son, she is determined to find Esteban’s father and tell him that 18 years ago they had a child, who has always looked up to him even though they never met. Manuela travels from Madrid to Barcelona looking for her former lover, who now goes by the name of Lola.

This film is probably the most successful Almodóvar movie and won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, making Pedro Almodóvar the third Spanish director to win in this category.

Click here to watch the trailer.

Talk to Her
(Hable con ella)

Year 2002
Cast Javier Cámara, Dario Grandinetti, Leonor Watling, Rosario Flores

Benigno, a nurse, and Marco, a writer, have never met until they sit next to each other in the audience during a theatre play. Both are deeply moved by it, but they won’t talk to each other until months after, when they meet again in the clinic Benigno is working at. Carlos is there because his girlfriend Lydia, a bullfighter, has received a goring from a bull and is in a coma. At the same time, Benigno is taking care of Alicia, a young ballet student who is also in a coma.

They start a deep friendship during a story that explores the past, present and future of these four characters, both very different and very similar. Pedro Almodóvar won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay with this film, making it the first screenplay in the Spanish language to ever win in this category.

Click here to watch the trailer.


Year 2006
Cast Penélope Cruz, Carmen Maura, Blanca Portillo, Lola Dueñas

This movie is set in Castilla-La Mancha, the Spanish region Almodóvar comes from. It tells the story of three generations of women from the same family: two sisters Raimunda and Sole, Yohana, Paula, Agustina and the sisters’ dead mother. Raimunda is married to an unemployed man and is the mother of Yohana, a teenage girl. Sole, her sister, works as a hairdresser. Paula is the sisters’ aunt. Agustina is their neighbour. The dead mother plays a part in the story because her ghost comes to visit the sisters.

In Volver the different characters survive the heat, the craziness, the superstitions and even the death by means of kindness, lies and an endless vitality. In a traditional setting, the living and the dead come together to create situations that are either hilarious or deeply dramatic. Pedro Almodóvar shows a Spain that is honest, spontaneous, adventurous and caring.

Click here to watch the trailer.

Broken Embraces
(Los abrazos rotos)

Year 2009
Cast Penélope Cruz, Blanca Portillo, Lluís Homar, Lola Dueñas, Ángela Molina, Rossy de Palma

Mateo Blanco is a film director, who also works as a writer under the pseudonym of Harry Caine. Fourteen years ago, he had a terrible car crash in which he lost his vision and also Lena, the love of his life. Nowadays, blind and unable to continue his work as a film director, he lives his life as Harry and has forgotten his real identity, as if Mateo had also died in that car crash.

Harry lives out of the screenplays he writes and gets help by his loyal producer Judit and her son Diego, who is a guide for him. One night, Diego has an accident and Harry takes care of him. Diego asks Harry about the time when he used to be Mateo, so Harry tells him the story as if it was a fairytale to get his own child to sleep. However, rather than the typical happy-ending fairytale, this one is a moving and exciting story driven by misfortune, jealousy, betrayal and guilt.

Click here to watch the trailer.

The Skin I Live In
(La piel que habito)

Year 2011
Cast Antonio Banderas, Elena Anaya, Marisa Paredes, Blanca Suárez

Robert Ledgard is a prominent plastic surgeon. After losing his wife in a car accident that caused her burns all over her body, he’s determined to find a new type of skin that could have saved her. After twelve years of research in his own laboratory, he manages to create a skin that is both sensitive to the touch and an armour, resistant against any external or internal danger.

However, during these years of experimenting he needed human guinea pigs to experiment with. This was not such a big deal, as Ledgard never had the slightest qualm and could always count on Marilia, the woman who had taken care of him since he was born and who lived with him in what from the outside looked like a wonderful and peaceful mansion.

Click here to watch the trailer.

Learn Spanish Online with Native-Level Teachers

Watching films and doing other activities such as reading or listening to music is a great way to boost your learning process. However, the fundament to master a foreign language is always taking a course with high-quality standards and experienced teachers. Lingoda courses tick those two boxes and also offer you the flexibility traditional language schools are lacking. If you register for an online Spanish course with us, you can learn at your own pace, whenever you want and from wherever you are. This means that having a busy schedule is no longer an excuse or an obstacle to learn a language. If you are interested in learning Spanish, book a trial class and experience the benefits of online learning for yourself!

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