Pain and Glory is European director Pedro Almodóvar’s most recent motion picture instalment.
Almodóvar, known for his eccentric cinematic flair with films such as Bad Education (2004), The Skin I Live In (2011), Julieta (2016) and his most revered body of work Law of Desire (1987).
Much like in Pain and Glory, Almodóvar aims to exhibit artistic introspection translated onto screen. Within the film, the viewer often finds themselves immersed into the unstable (inner) world that the director has crafted.
This is quite imposing and, at times, has the film staggering along at an awkward pace. Whilst Pain and Glory is an immersive and personable exploration, at times that I was caught up watching the monotonous and mundane elements that exist in the lived-experience of everyday life.
Pain and Glory highlights the imperative nature of the relationship we must have with the child we used to be.
The film’s storytelling fluctuates between the dysfunctional adult-self and the sincerity of the child-self, particularly, in relation to the irrefutable innocence and purity that exists within that time of being.
The on-going internal conflict experienced by Salvador Mallo (Antonio Banderas) is conceptualised through the innocence of a former child-self. The film’s most emotive moments are brought to life through this dynamic – when we are confronted by how the blameless child has shaped the wounded, ill-fated artist.
Try to imagine the story of The Little Prince – only on drugs!
Salvador seemingly only manages to express and showcase himself with any level of sincerity through his films and storytelling – much like we imagine might be true of Pain and Glory’s director Almodóvar.
Most notable performances came from Antonio Banderas (Salvador Mallo) and actor Leonardo Sbaraglia (Federico) playing an old lover of Salvador’s who resurfaces serendipitously by stumbling across one of his stage-plays with which he happens to (unknowingly) feature. The two establish palpable chemistry whilst sharing the screen. Salvador’s mother Jacinta who is portrayed by Penelope Cruz gives another worthy performance within her role – Banderas and Cruz frequenting many of Almodóvar’s films together.
Pain and Glory showcases remarkable cinematography and well-executed interpersonal storytelling however, the film unfolds at quite a slow-pace and often feels as though it’s building to something with little resolve.
By Daisy Sumersford