Pain and Glory

5
Pain and Glory

TIME OUT SAYS

A gorgeously crafted memoir of a jaded filmmaker past his prime, Pain and Glory could be Pedro Almodóvar’s most autobiographical work since Law of Desire. The grand irony, of course, is that there’s nothing jaded about the filmmaking on display: it’s drenched in a passion for cinema and shows Almodóvar right at the peak of his powers. There’s no sense of waning creativity, only a mood of longing and nostalgia that’s unmistakeably from a deeply personal place. You could call it Almodóvar’s Cinema Paradiso.

The man at its heart is Salvador Mallo (Antonio Banderas, who won Best Actor at this year's Cannes for this role), a Madrid filmmaker suffering from all sorts of aches, pains and maladies that make him a prisoner in his own body. He questions his mortality as a matter of routine, but his immortality – professionally, at least – is guaranteed by Taste, a big arthouse smash from the ’80s that’s being celebrated with an upcoming screening. He’s been invited, along with the film’s stormy star Alberto Crespo (Asier Etxeandia), and asked to participate in a Q&A afterwards. The wrinkle is that the pair fell out making the movie and haven’t spoken since, and when Salvador initiates a reconciliation it, inevitably, doesn’t go well.

Banderas is terrific. He’s Almodóvar’s on-screen alter ego right down to the greying rebel hairdo and strikingly coloured outfit of polo shirt and trainers. He inhabits the character with a sense of haunted distraction; a man in his sixties belatedly trying be reconciled with his earlier life and clear his emotional debts. There are touching scenes with the old friend he fell out with and the partner who drove him to despair. Most movingly, we see his mother (played as an elderly woman by Julieta Serrano) in flashback, telling him how she wants to be dressed at her funeral.

Pain and Glory dips repeatedly into Salvador’s past, with old memories floating through the film like a breeze through an open window. The film begins with his mother (played by Penélope Cruz in her younger years) singing along to a flamenco song as a group of women wash white sheets by a river. We see him as a child with his seamstress mother in a station as the town around them celebrates a local holiday and sets off fireworks. Almodóvar fills this poignant tapestry of recollections with bold colours and infuses them with emotional detail. It’s a deeply intimate experience and it’ll pierce your heart. Josep Lambies

28 May 2019

DETAILS

Pain and Glory
Release DateAugust 23, 2019
DirectorPedro Almodóvar
CastingPenélope Cruz, Antonio Banderas, Leonardo Sbaraglia