PAIN AND GLORY. Directed by Pedro Almodóvar with Antonio Banderas and Penélope Cruz.

Pain and Glory: Pedro Almodóvar


Pain and Glory, Almodóvar’s latest and most deeply self-reflective movie is virtually perfect. I cried when it ended, because I wanted more, and I walked out of the cinema knowing that I would watch this film again; something I seldom do.

Antonio Banderas plays Salvador Mallo, a sick, depressed and uninspired film maker who is wrapped up in the bleakness of his aging and his lack of productivity. Friends can’t help him shake it off, and he seems to be unmovable. Then, a series of encounters draw him back into reflecting on his childhood, growing up in a village in the 60s, his first and most damaging love affair in the 80s, his complicated and beautiful relationship with his mother, and then facing a present that is filled with prescription medication, a back fusion, a new strange addiction, and finally, a return to writing and work.

This is Almodóvar at his absolute best; dealing with the complex and subtle dynamics of relationships, and then exploring them through the texture and humanness of character. Layered on top of this is a strangely unjudgmental look at filmmaking, writing and directing that resonates deeply, right up until the very last frame. This film is beautiful to watch. The styling, framing, pace and detail is meticulous and organic and satisfying. But it is the performances that make it utterly, brilliantly magical, moving and mesmerising.

I have never seen Banderas like this. He is indescribably good; both big and subtle, endearing and irritating, and deep and superficial all at the same time. I loved every single look, cough, sigh, word and breath of his performance. But the entire cast was brilliant, including my all-time favourite actress Penélope Cruz as Salvador’s childhood mother.

I feel like I have grown as an audience member to Almódovar’s movies, as he has grown as a film maker, and now he has come to this age, this subject matter, this whittling down, as I have arrived at wanting it, and loving it.

Definitely my favourite movie of 2019.

What: Pain and Glory

Where: Ster-Kinekor Cinema Nouveau