Pain and Glory (15)

Pain and Glory (15)

Directed by Pedro Almodovar
Picturehouse, Liverpool
From 23rd August 2019

Reviewed by Colin Serjent

This is a complex but mesmerising movie about a film-maker’s life, in the character of Salvador Mallo (impressively played by Antonio Banderas), which is almost autobiographical of Director Pedro Almodovar.

The film looks back on different stages of his life and, as such, contains lots of flashbacks, the most compelling of those being his childhood.

Mallo, in his late 60s, ponders on where life has taken him and what is left for him to fulfill, if anything.

Seemingly out of boredom he develops a heroin habit at this stage of his existence, the drug being provided to him by an old acquaintance Alberto (Asea Etxeandia), who he had split from in a gay relationship over thirty years ago.

For me the most poignant scenes are when he, whether through drug intakes, reflects on his childhood with fondness.

Penelope Cruz, as Jacinta, played his caring mother. They, along with his dad, lived in a village cave during Spain’s late-Franco 1960s.

He was very clever as a child (well played by Asier Flores), despite being beset by virtual poverty. This exceptional intelligence was a major factor in him becoming an acclaimed film director.

Whilst in his melancholy mood in present times, what lifts his spirits was when he came across a painting of him reading a book in the cave, in an art gallery, created when he was aged nine or ten-years-old, apparently painted by a young man (Cesar Vicente), who had done building work within the spartan home, and who the boy had helped educate. He was also a catalyst in his attraction to homosexual relationships.

As one critic stated, forget Quentin Taratino’s over-hyped Once Upon a Time In Hollywood – this is what a true love letter to cinema looks like.

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