TL;DR – A beautiful look at how the pain of the past can define us even when we don’t know that it is happening.
Score – 4 out of 5 stars
Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene
Walking into this film I didn’t know what to expect, I knew it stared Antonio Banderas, but not a whole lot else. Indeed, I think that was the same for a lot of the people sitting around me, with one person mentioning that they “hoped it was more glory than pain.” However, as the film went on it became clear that this was a film about how pain and glory can find themselves intertwined.
So to set the scene, Salvador Mallo (Antonio Banderas) was once a famous film writer/director in Madrid, but these days he spends most of his time in his house alone with his painting and his thoughts. Over the years his body has slowly been causing him more and more pain culminating in major back surgery that he has never really gotten over. Being a filmmaker was everything to him and now when he can’t physically do it anymore he has lost his purpose for life. One day he is contacted by a local cinema who has remastered Sabor one of his earlier films and they have asked him and the lead actor Alberto Crespo (Asier Etxeandia) to come to host a Q&A. The only problem is that Salvador has not spoken to Alberto in 30 years. But more than that, this event starts dredging up the past in all its beauty and dysfunction.
lot of this film is resting on the shoulders of Antonio Banderas because the
film is exploring every facet of his characters life. There is a slow haggard movement
of someone who was once full of life and now resigned to a nothingness that is
really compelling. Antonio brings a lot of nuances and emotional range to a character
that could have very easily become one-dimensional. As we learn more and more
about his life and his past, you begin to understand why he acts as he does.
The story is where people will be really engaged or not because it is a real personal story of one man’s life. One of the things that Salvador is processing in this film is the legacy of the past and the effect that has on his life. In many cases it is a legacy that he does not even realise is still there or has suppressed into the back of his mind. This is the power of the past and it may make you think back to your misspent youths. Also for the story it is important that without realising it Salvador starts to repeat the past as he slips into a dependency that has claimed others he knows. That being said it does get dark at times and the ‘Pain’ part of the title is not just for show. This involves some very liberal use of heroin, which the film does not shy away from at all.
part of this film is wonderfully constructed with moments that just lift you up
out of your day. The opening scene where Salvador as a child (Asier Flores)
watches his mother Jacinta (Penélope Cruz) sing as she washes and hangs out the
clothes with the other local women was just a joy to behold. There is also a
really beautiful musical score by Alberto Iglesias that uses the oboe in
moments of joy and brings in the piano and violin when things become muddled
again. It also helps that the film explores some of the most beautiful parts of
Spain in and around Paterna.
In the end, do we recommend Pain and Glory? Well for me, that would be a yes. However, this is a very personal film that delves into the struggles of one man’s past, and if you don’t connect with Salvador or get put off with some of the more abstract sections of the film then it is not going to be an interesting ride for you. There is also is some nudity which might not be your cup of tea and that’s fine. For me personally I found the film to be fascinating, even in those closing minutes of the ending that recontextualizes everything.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow
Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV,
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Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of Pain and Glory
Directed by – Pedro Almodóvar
Written by – Pedro Almodóvar
Music by – Alberto Iglesias
Cinematography by – José Luis Alcaine
Edited by – Teresa Font
Production/Distribution Companies – El Deseo & Universal
Starring – Antonio Banderas, Penélope Cruz, Raúl Arévalo, Leonardo Sbaraglia, Asier Etxeandia, Kiti Mánver, Cecilia Roth, Pedro Casablanc, Nora Navas, Susi Sánchez, Julieta Serrano, Carmelo Gómez, Julián López, Paqui Horcajo, Rosalía, Marisol Muriel, César Vicente, Asier Flores & Neus Alborch
Rating – Australia: MA15+; Canada: 14A; Germany: 6; New Zealand: M; United Kingdom: 15; United States: R