Review: Pain and Glory (2019)

Director/Screenwriter: Pedro Almodóvar
Starring: Antonio Banderas, Asier Etxeandia, Penelope Cruz, Leonardo Sbaraglia, Julieta Serrano
Genres: Foreign/International Film, Drama
MPAA Rating: Rated R for drug use, some graphic nudity, and language
Release Dates: 10/4/19 (Limited Theatrical); 1/14/20 (Disc/Streaming)
Where to Watch: Rent/Buy – Fandango/Amazon/etc.
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 97%

Pain and Glory, Pedro Almodovar’s latest, is a sort of autobiographical work — with Antonio Banderas as his cinematic replacement/equivalent. Banderas plays Salvador, a retired, esteemed Spanish director who suffers from numerous aches and pains, both physically and emotionally. As he’s dealing with his relatively solitary, albeit lavish, life, his past returns to him in unexpected ways.

There are flashbacks to Salvador’s youth, in which he and his parents (including a wonderful Penelope Cruz as his mother) struggle to make ends meet; his intelligence and passion for cinema is visible even at a young age. The plot is fairly thin and straightforward, but it doesn’t need to be convoluted. It is a sort of mood piece, and a beautifully made film at that.

Nearly the entire film is seen through Salvador’s eyes, and there is one particularly heartbreaking scene when he reunites with an ex-lover, only to hear of this “new family” of which he is not a part. In that moment, you can see the pain [half the title right there] in Banderas’ eyes. He is simply marvelous in this film, and I can see why he received his [much-deserved] first Oscar nomination for this role, in what is evidently his best performance.

Note: There is also an astounding twist at the very end that causes you to rethink some of what you’d seen. I plan to watch more of Almodovar’s films.


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