Pain and Glory – Spain
Wednesday, January 29, 2020
Show Times: 6:30 & 8:40 pm
Director: Pedro Almodóvar
Cast: Antonio Banderas, Asier Etxeandia, Leonardo Sbaraglia
Running time: 113 minutes
Language: Spanish with English subtitles
Cannes Film Festival, European Film Awards, Hollywood Film Awards, New York Film Critics Circle Awards: Best Actor, Antonio Banderas. Golden Globe nominations: Best Actor, Best Foreign Language Film. 11 other wins, 105 other nominations.
“Pain and Glory,” all about healing rifts and rejoining life, is personal and universal. It’s also simple in a way that’s incandescent – suffused by a strange and beautiful gentleness of spirit.”—Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle
Pedro Almodóvar sums up many of his strongest themes in Pain and Glory, an autumnal look back at a career that came upon us bursting with vitality and vigor and, even at this introspective stage, still has room to move.
Frequent collaborator Antonio Banderas plays Salvador Mallo, a popular Spanish film director struggling with a creative and personal dry spell after the death of his mother. In elaborate flashbacks set in Franco-era rural Spain, she is seen as an uncontainable force of nature played Penélope Cruz. The boy is overwhelmed by his earthy mom, who in turn senses and is frightened by her son’s incipient sexuality.
The suave director hasn’t made anything in several years and has become a virtual recluse at his modernist urban villa in Madrid. But something impels him to join his one-time star (Asier Etxeandia) for an event celebrating the restoration of their breakthrough film. Unfortunately, this Alberto Crespo introduces him to heroin, and Salvador’s an easy mark for opiates, having had severe back pain and other physical ailments since childhood.
What’s most impressive here is the quietly amusing way Banderas conveys both the agony and ecstasy of his situation. (The Spanish title, Dolor y Gloria, has more playful poetry to it.)
As always, Almodóvar is not about to let dour circumstances get in the way of visual fun. His palette favours cool greens and grays, with slashes of gold and red. There are even animated bits, recalling Saul Bass graphics from ’50s movies, as well as many nods to favourite filmmakers.
Pain and Glory is being treated in some circles as Almodóvar’s 8 ½. It is also somewhat of a wistful reflection on mortality for Banderas, who recently revealed his recovery from a heart attack two years ago. Pain and Glory offers a welcome summation of the estimable careers of both of these acclaimed artists who have offered film goers much to recollect and to savour.