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4 Spanish Films with English Subtitles

Updated on April 24, 2019
Princessa profile image

Wendy is a Psychologist graduated in Scotland. She also studied Communication Sciences in Peru. Currently a Spanish teacher in France.

Pedro Almodovar Films And His Spanish Movies With English Subtitles

These are some of my favourite Spanish films, all directed by Pedro Almodovar. They are all comedies but do not watch them if you are oversensitive to sex scenes or if you are always looking for the politically correct; Spanish films just aren't.

Spanish films display a weird sense of humour. Perhaps it is a European humour or Spanish humour. I am more inclined to think that it is a particular way that the Spanish have to see life: A crude way to confront the most unpleasant situations.

The Spanish films I have chosen to review here are wonderfully dark comic stories about ordinary people. They can be viewed by men and women alike several times as you always will find a twist or references to old movies, literature and theatre that you did not notice the first time.

The films have little or no special effects. They rely on acting and dialogue which is hilarious. Although they are not comedies, strictly speaking, but they do bring a smile to your face. Maybe because you realize that even in the most stressful situations life is still worth living and laughing about!

1) "Atame" or Love Between a Mental Patient and a Porn Star

Victoria Abril in Atame playing Marina, a porn film star
Victoria Abril in Atame playing Marina, a porn film star

Victoria Abril developed cold sores during shooting from having her mouth frequently taped shut.

ATAME: Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! (1990)

A Spanish movie that you can find with English subtitles Starring a young Antonio Banderas and Victoria Abril. This film launched Antonio Banderas career in American films.

One of my favourite Spanish movies. One I can see again and again without getting bored. Perfect to delight yourself with a young Antonio Banderas.

A dramatic and comic story at the same time, this is one of the best examples of Spanish Dark Romantic comedy. The plot is simple, Ricky (Antonio Banderas) is a mental patient released from the hospital. He only wants to start a new life, form a family and live happily ever after. The problem is that he has chosen as his bride-to-be Marina (Victoria Abril) a porn film star who once spent a night with him. Ricky tries to convince her to marry him but as she is reluctant to maintain any contact, he starts stalking her until he kidnaps her in her own house. It is a wacky, crude, sex-charged love story and unpredictable funny.

For this film, Almodovar cast his own mother as Victoria Abril's mom.

"The sex scene between 'Antonio Banderas' and Victoria Abril took nine takes to get right, and about nine hours to film. Pedro Almodóvar chose to use the last take as, by that time, the two actors had worked themselves up into a sweat which made the scene appear to be more authentic. Elia Kazan later remarked that he thought it was one of the best sex scenes he had ever witnessed."

— Extract from IMDB

UK Trailer for the 1990 Almodóvar film,''Átame!'', AKA Tie me up! Tie me Down!

2) Kika (1994) a Makeup Artist in love with a Voyeuristic Photographer

Starring: Verónica Forqué and Peter Coyote.

This is a film for when I feel a little bit crazy. Kika keeps you on your toes with the most unpredictable situations and characters. A film charged with black humour.

The plot is like in most Spanish films, a bit all over the place. Kika (Veronica Forqué) is a makeup artist with a more than complicated life. She is in love with a voyeuristic photographer, but she is having an affair with his step-father (Peter Coyote). To complicate things, Kika has a lesbian maid with a porn star brother who just came out of jail. Juana, the maid, played by the unforgettably strange-looking Rossy de Palma, wishes to become a prison matron and lets her comically bestial brother have sex with her just to keep him from hurting the neighbours. Is that too much for you?

And this is just the start of the film... an utterly outrageous film, not for the over-sensitive. Some might say that Kika is a hard film to watch due to its rape scene, incest and other taboo subjects, but honestly, I think that it is even more difficult NOT to watch it or even laugh -despite feeling guilty about it. After all, who else, but Almodovar can make you laugh with a rape scene?

This is a film that will catch your interest with the first scene and you will not be able to turn away from it. I would say this is a "pitch dark comedy".

If you are a fan of French couture, Kika is also a showcase for Jean-Paul Gaultier's dazzling outlandish costumes for Victoria Abril. Of special notice is her gore-trimmed gown made to look as if it had exploded to expose her breasts; or the one-woman video crew suit.

Kika was shown for the first time more than 20 years ago. The trailer below is the one originally used to advertise the film in Spain and like the film, the trailer is also incorrect (politically, morally and who knows what else) but it is funny and light-hearted.

KIKA Theatrical Trailer (Pedro Almodovar, 1993) in Spanish with English subtitles

I think the reason why a lot of the Spanish films do so well, and are so well done, is because the public really respects it and wants it.

— Paula Garces

Women On The Verge Of A Nervous Breakdown

3) Women On The Verge of A Nervous Breakdown (1988)

Starring Carmen Maura and Antonio Banderas.

I just love this film, I have seen it so many times and every single time it makes me laugh to tears!

This is the film that made Almodóvar an international star; it was nominated for the 1989 Academy Award for The Best Foreign-language film and won 5 Goya Awards including Best Film and Best Actress in a Leading Role for Maura.

The plot turns around Pepa (Carmen Maura) depressed because her married boyfriend just left her. But she will not let him go and will do anything to talk to him before he leaves town with his new lover. This film is hysterically comic in a dramatic way.

I don't know if it is just me, but this is a film with which most women can easily identify. I am always asking myself which of them I am?

The women in the film are each in their own way on the verge of a nervous breakdown. There is Pepa trying to get her lover back, a virgin having erotic dreams under the influence of sleeping pills, the lover's mentally deranged wife, Candela, who is escaping from the police and tries to kill herself and the new lover who tries to control Pepa's ex.

The film is dramatic but full of little comic scenes like when Pepa burns her bed by accident, when she takes a mambo taxi or when someone visiting her drinks her gazpacho loaded with sleeping pills.

A must see for lovers of foreign films. Almodóvar’s story of women liberating themselves after being messed about by men is in part a tribute to the women who he thinks rescued Spain from the civil war.

Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown

Yes, women are stronger than us. They face more directly the problems that confront them, and for that reason they are much more spectacular to talk about. I don't know why I am more interested in women because I don't go to any psychiatrists, and I don't want to know why.

— Pedro Almodovar

4) Todo Sobre Mi Madre: All About My Mother (1999)

Starring: Eloy Azorín and Carmen Balagué.

This is a melodramatic comedy where Manuela (Cecilia Roth) leaves Madrid after the death of her son to go to Barcelona to look for her son's father. There she finds an ex-transsexual friend and a young nun who turns out to be pregnant by Manuela's ex-lover (the father of the dead boy) who is also a transsexual.

This is an emotive film about women, who have already gone through a nervous breakdown. It is sad, funny and extravagant. It has everything that makes a good film.

All About My Mother Wins Foreign Language Film: 2000 Oscars

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2008 Wendy Iturrizaga


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    • Princessa profile imageAUTHOR

      Wendy Iturrizaga 

      3 years ago from France

      Hi Andy, I haven't seen that film. I heard it won 2 Goyas but I haven't seen it, I am not one for horror films, I do prefer comedies especially Spanish style. Thanks for sharing your preferences.

    • profile image


      3 years ago

      Hi Princessa  my favourite Spanish movies with English subtitles is the horror film REC. Rec Plunging the viewer into the nightmarish hellscape of an apartment complex under siege and Rec proves that found footage can still be used as an effective horror film

    • Princessa profile imageAUTHOR

      Wendy Iturrizaga 

      6 years ago from France

      Second Language: You are welcome. I really like Almodovar's films and the way we portrays women.

    • Second Language profile image

      Anita Rai 

      6 years ago

      Thanks for the recommendations. I've always heard of him, and his connection to Antonio Banderas, but never saw a film of his yet. I'll try Tie Me Up Tie Me Down.

    • ishwaryaa22 profile image

      Ishwaryaa Dhandapani 

      8 years ago from Chennai, India

      Good Hub! After reading your hub. i want to see more of this brilliant director's films though i already saw his films- About My mother, Talk To Her, Bad Education and Volver. Through these films, i admired Almodover's unique filmaking and he deserved international success and critical acclaim!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      National Adultery Spanish title Adulterio Nacional. Can somebody tell me where i can watch it online or download the full movie.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Salute to everyone, I'm a spanish boy from Madrid.

      First of all, usually Spanish people don't use to like Spanish movies, I mean, we do not agree nor with the topics neither with the characters. Both got nothing to do with Spanish way of live or society.

      Actually, not much of us like almodovar's movies, it is always the same, a desperate and poor girl who got her best friend struggling against his homosexual feelings and her fathers. corrupt cops are quite religious whose were standing opposed to the progress of society in liberal shape.

      i mean, it is all bullshit, People here are not as sensitive or conservative as this kind of Spanish movie shows. All this "almodovar school" is politically influenced by the leftwing, they are all rich people though. The society take this people as fools or nerds, snob who lives outerspace.

      By the other hand, there is an interesting cinema made by non political people and don't depending on public allowances and aids.

      I'm talking about directors such as

      Alejandro Amenábar, Daniel Monzón, Jose Luis Cuerda...

      I personally believe this people deal with real life and experiences, you must see the thrillers "Celda 211" or "Tesis", to name a few.

      For comedy, I think where we are big in, I can name you "Torrente" (the Antihero) or "Atún y Chocolate" (social disgraces with a positive sense of humor)

      If you want to enjoy psychological terror, I just recommend you "REC", remade by US industry as Quarantine.

      I cannot write more 'cause of time, but if you want to know more about our real likes within Spanish movies, please don't hesitate to write me:


      (sorry for my English!)

    • profile image

      Sunitha Iyengar 

      9 years ago

      One thing I can vaouch. Spanish movies are the best the world. They are bold. They mirror the society. You can relate with cahracters. I also have not studied Spansih in school. I heard about spanish movies from the Espoir Technologies Product Smart English through Movies. The first movie I saw was "The Other side of the bed". It was fantastic. Then I saw the movie "Sex and Luisia" Marvellous!

    • profile image

      9 years ago

      If you like Pedro Almodóvar movies you must see Los Abrazos Rotos. Your selection is very good, congrats.

    • Princessa profile imageAUTHOR

      Wendy Iturrizaga 

      9 years ago from France

      Shell: I'll look for it.

      Juliette: Almodovar's films are certainly unique, I like the fact that you never know what to expect when you first sit to watch one of his films. I like "Jamon Jamon", especially the jamon fight scene, but that was a Bigas Luna film. He also has some great movies most of them very sensual like Bambola or Las Edades de Lulu.

    • Juliette Morgan profile image

      Juliette Morgan 

      9 years ago

      I've been a Pedro fan for over 20 years now and find the films very unique, although all with the same signature. My favourite is 'Jamon Jamon'. I liken Pedro to Gaudi of the art world. Great hub to introduce the films to others.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Watch: Maria Full of Grace. Amazing movie!

    • Princessa profile imageAUTHOR

      Wendy Iturrizaga 

      10 years ago from France

      zadrobi: Thanks for the good news! I haven't seen "Un mundo maravilloso" I think it is a Mexican film, isn't it? I'll keep an eye on it, thanks for the recommendation.

      zadrobi: all the above films are really good some of them more dramatic than others but all share a funny vein.

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      never heared of this movie before, I wanna watch it some time

    • zadrobi profile image


      10 years ago from Carbondale, IL

      You'll be happy to know I was searching for "funny Spanish movies" and your hub came up second in my search :) If you haven't seen Un Mundo Maravilloso by Luis Estrada, I recommend it (I'm sure they have subtitles for it). Good hub, princessa!

      No he visto Todo Sobre Mi Madre, asi que voy a verlo ahora! Gracias!

    • Princessa profile imageAUTHOR

      Wendy Iturrizaga 

      10 years ago from France

      Ellie: Yes, they are all Almodovar films. However there are some other very funny and very good Spanish films from other directors, the problem is that they have not subtitles!

    • EllieP profile image


      10 years ago

      Are these all Pedro Almodóvar films? ;)

    • Princessa profile imageAUTHOR

      Wendy Iturrizaga 

      11 years ago from France

      Cris: You are welcome :)

      Ron: "Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown" is one of my all time favourites, an intemporal film; dramatic but hilarious. Carmen Maura is absolutely fantastic, even now despite the years she still looks amazing and her acting is stronger than ever.

    • profile image

      Ron Cotnam 

      11 years ago

      I became a fan of Pedro Almodovar about 20 years ago. My favorites are "What Have I Done to Deserve This" and "Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown". I prefer to watch them in spanish with sub-titles. After a while you forget that they're speaking spanish. Oh.. and Carmen Maura is awesome!

    • Cris A profile image

      Cris A 

      11 years ago from Manila, Philippines

      Oh goodie! You're most kind! Am I glad to be your fan! Thanks again! :D

    • Princessa profile imageAUTHOR

      Wendy Iturrizaga 

      11 years ago from France

      Cris: Here is a link to Alex de la Iglesia films... enjoy:

      His films are mainly black comedies.

      I forgot to mention Bigas Luna, he also has some weird but funny films like "Jamon Jamon" (a tale of ham and passion) and "Las edades de Lulu" (the ages of Lulu) a fascinating kinky story.

    • Cris A profile image

      Cris A 

      11 years ago from Manila, Philippines

      Oh thanks for recommending Alex de la Iglesia, it's the first time I've heard his name. I'll try to check his films out! You're right about European films, they have nuances that I cant just put my finger to that make them an entirely different world from Hollywood. Oh I could go on and on raving about the likes of Un Homme et Une femme or Belle du Jour! Btw, I was enlisting in your fan club and then I realized I already am! LOL Thanks again :D

    • Princessa profile imageAUTHOR

      Wendy Iturrizaga 

      11 years ago from France

      Cris A : European cinema is fascinating. One can easily become "addicted" to Almodovar's films. Alex de la Iglesia is another great Spanish film maker with films like "La Comunidad" (2000) which was hilarious and "Crimen ferpecto" (2004), again a dark comedy thriller.

    • Cris A profile image

      Cris A 

      11 years ago from Manila, Philippines

      I simply adore Almodovar the point that I made a collection of his films. I first got to know him in madonna's Truth of Dare and the first movie I've seen was Tie me Up Tie Me Down. Since then, I have never stopped liking his stuff.  What i like most about his films are its unique plots that can run from the very twisted (as in Bad Education) to the very stark and simple (Volver). One movie I have yet to find is his Laws of Desire! I would also recommend The Flower of My Secret and Talk to Her. I simply love foreign films, specially his! Great hub! :D 

    • Princessa profile imageAUTHOR

      Wendy Iturrizaga 

      11 years ago from France

      Nikhil : Volver is another great film too. Spanish films are so unique that you are guaranteed to be surprised each time you watch one.

    • Princessa profile imageAUTHOR

      Wendy Iturrizaga 

      11 years ago from France

      Writer rider: they are all very funny movies with a weird sense of humour. I like their unpredictability and sarcasm.

    • profile image

      Writer Rider 

      11 years ago

      I have to admit, Spanish is not what I took in school. Still, would love to watch one of those movies. Thanks for the recommendations.


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