Pain & Glory follows a retired director, Salvador Mallo (Antonio Banderas), who is suffering from various physical pains while trying to navigate his life without filmmaking.
Pedro Almodóvar is probably the most famous director from Spain and he makes his most personal film yet with Pain and Glory. I have only seen one of his past films (Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown), but I already see huge differences between these two films and I think it reflects how Almodóvar has grown as a director.
This is a more mature and meditative film that makes you look at your own past relationships and how they can still impact you later in life. It also delves into how the suffering someone goes through in life can help them create art.
Antonio Banderas is fantastic and he is basically playing Almodóvar with a different name. He’s lonely man who finds himself reconnecting with people he has distanced himself from since his career is no longer thriving. And the scenes that involve his mother, a past actor he has worked with (who might be a stand-in for Banderas himself), and a past love interest are what really made the movie. Penelope Cruz stars as Salvador’s mother and her scenes are also wonderful.
This movie consists of intimate character moments, however there’s not much more story wise. For general audiences, however, I think this is Almodóvar’s most accessible film, as his other ones are known to be a bit outlandish. If it weren’t for Parasite, I would say this film would be a shoe-in for Best Foreign Film at the Oscars. However, I do hope that Banderas is nominated for Best Actor because this is the best performance that I’ve ever seen from him.
Overall, Pain and Glory is a wonderful contemplative and reflective film that has Almodóvar revealing his soul to the world.
I give Dolor y gloria an A-