Pain and Glory Film Review.
Pedro Almodóvar never fails to disappoint, his stories are original and are always a rewarding watch. But can it be remotely possible that with Pain and Glory, the director may have even surpassed himself.
The story revolves around a character called Salvador Mallo (Antonio Banderas). Mallo is a seasoned Spanish film director, and through an accumulation of numerous ailments, the highly acclaimed filmmaker has retreated from public life, work, only to find himself in a melancholic state. Psychologically unwilling and unable to create, he spends much his time idling away, busy doing nothing.
When his 30 year old film is remastered, Mallo is invited along to the screening, which semi-reluctantly forces him to reach out to the film’s lead actor Alberto Crespo (Asier Etxeandia). Their relationship had soured after the actor had arrogantly took his own direction relating to the portrayal of his character. Never the less Mallo rises above his years of indignation and approaches the actor, offering him the white flag. This reunion triggers a chain of events leading the forlorn filmmaker on the path of self-salvation.
The film is not a direct auto-biography, but Almodóvar has tapped into aspects of his life to help formulate the story. One lovely little nugget is that the set designers replicated Almodóvar’s home to become Salvador Mallo’s safe haven, even Antonio Banderas wore some of Almodóvar’s clothes. But for the actor who garnered the best actor award at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival for his portrayal of Mallo, it was all about capturing the inner life of the filmmaker, and by golly doesn’t he do that?!
Banderas’ commitment and conviction is mesmerising. His tiniest gestures, speak volumes, there are so many evocative moments that fill you with such emotion. It’s a standout performance of standout performances.
Indeed full credit must be given to Asier Etxeandia, Penélope Cruz, Julieta Serrano and Leonardo Sbaraglia whose screen presence and authenticity is electrifying.
The story is set in present day Madrid, but in various ways we are transported back to Mallo’s modest childhood in 1960’s Valencia, and we learn of his turbulent love affair with Federico Delgado (Leonardo Sbaraglia) in 80s Madrid. All these reminiscences reveal an interesting observation. How people enter into our lives, influence us and the choices we make, which ultimately we have to live with.
“Without film my life is meaningless,” states Salvador Mallo. It’s a powerful line of dialogue, and although Almodóvar no doubt has a full, exuberant life, the sentiment conveyed is profound; and feels it does demonstrate the director’s love of the medium.
Delicately and sensitivity Pedro Almodóvar traverses through a man’s life as he reconciles with his past, his present, but ultimately himself.
With addiction too being an interwoven theme in the film, may I recommend you get your movie fix and go see Pain and Glory.