Keswick Film Club - Reviews - Pain and Glory

Reviews - Pain and Glory

Pain and Glory

Reviewed By Stephen Pye

Pain and Glory
Pain and Glory
It sounds pretty unbearable, doesn't it? An autobiographical film about a once successful but now ageing movie director, feeling too frail, after a spinal fusion operation and depressed after his mother's death, to work anymore, turning to heroine to numb the pain. Yet another film about film-making rather than the world at large? But 'Pain and Glory' , Pedro Almodóvar's 21 st feature, is nothing less than a perfectly poised creation that had you leaving the cinema feeling better about the world and human relationships in the way good films can do like nothing else.

The Almodóvar figure (the film is essentially a celluloid autobiography), Salvador Mallo is played by Antonio Banderas, a superb performance for which he won best actor at Cannes. Banderas first found fame in Almodóvar's films in the eighties but then moved to Hollywood to become an action star. They became estranged and did not work together for 21 years until the 2011 thriller “The skin I live in”.

Two years ago Banderas suffered a major heart attack and in this film has a graver, more inward and vulnerable presence than he has shown before, unexpectedly touching, as he portrays his own director, literally wearing Almodóvar's clothes and living in his apartment. Almodóvar has said he thinks it is Banderas's best ever performance, his rebirth as an actor. It is an act of reconciliation, one among many in the film.

The film also features another beautifully measured performance by the inimitable Penelope Cruz as the director's young mother. There are many devices used throughout the film, not least in the amazing denouement, so typical of Almodóvar. But it is his desire that wins through in the end. His desire to communicate, in a film, literally drenched in colour, something of the wonder of film making itself, as seen through the prism of his own life and his lifelong artistic endeavour.

The film was enthusiastically well received by the large audience of 166 people.

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