Pedro Almodóvar (Julieta, Broken Embraces, Volver) returns with this emotional and visually engaging story of an acclaimed filmmaker whose reflections on the past bring him closer to the truth of the present.
Salvador Mallo (Antonio Banderas) is a veteran Spanish filmmaker who suffers from both physical and mental ailments, as well as a creative drought. When the Madrid cinematheque invites Salvador to participate in a Q&A for a retrospective of his earlier work, he decides to reconnect with the film’s drug-addled star, Alberto Crespo (Asier Etxeandia), whom he has not spoken to in 30 years.
Upon their reunion, Salvador learns that Alberto is still abusing drugs in order to keep the creative juices flowing. On a whim, Salvador decides to try heroin for the first time. As he continues to chase the high, he sinks deeper into the past, reflecting on a series of firsts: his first taste of cinema, his first desire for men, his first partner, Alberto, and his first love—his mother, Jacinta (Penélope Cruz, Everybody Knows, Broken Embraces). Almodóvar seamlessly uses flashbacks to move us through past and present, boyhood and manhood, memories and visions, cinema and reality, as Salvador comes closer to his sense of identity. In keeping with his aesthetic, Almodóvar uses rich colours and slow, drawn-out sequences to pull us in and explore themes of intimacy, dysfunctional families, and sexual complexity.
The director’s most personal work to date, Pain and Glory competed for the Palme d’Or at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival, where Banderas took home the award for Best Actor and Alberto Iglesias won for Best Soundtrack. This film is a must-see for this year’s awards season.
“A beautiful, full-hearted celebration of the craft of filmmaking.” (Bradley Warren, The Playlist)
“This is an especially personal work, anchored by the director’s on-off muse Antonio Banderas in perhaps his greatest performance and sweeps through the Spanish maestro’s recurrent themes: high melodrama and kitsch comedy, piety and carnal lust, sex and death, human pain and transcendent glory.” (Ed Frankl, The Film Stage)
“As ever, Almodóvar has made a film about pleasure, which is itself a pleasure: witty, intelligent and sensuous.” (Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian)