Pain and Glory (2019)

pain and glory poster 2019 movie
9.0 Overall Score
Story: 9/10
Acting: 9/10
Visuals: 9/10

Solid told story that has a lot of heart


Movie Info

Movie Name:  Pain and Glory

Studio:  El Deseo

Genre(s):  Drama

Release Date(s):  March 13, 2019 (Spain)/October 4, 2019 (US)

MPAA Rating:  R

pain and glory graphics doctors

There are many forms of pain

Acclaimed filmmaker Salvador Mallo (Antonio Banderas) has dealt with crippling pain for years from multiple ailments.  Unable to work anymore, a screening of his film Sabor puts Salvador puts him in contact with his former actor Alberto Crespo (Asier Etxeandia) who introduces him to heroin.  While the heroin eases the pain, Salvador finds himself on a journey back through his life.  He remember his childhood with his mother Jacinta (Penélope Cruz), his first sexual encounter, and finds himself reunited with his first love Frederico (Leonardo Sbaraglia).  Pain and glory mark Salvador’s life, and Salvador struggles to find his direction again.

Written and directed by Pedro Almodóvar, Pain and Glory (Dolor y gloria) is a Spanish drama.  The movie was released to critical acclaim and received Academy Award nominations for Best Actor (Banderas) and Best Foreign Film.

pain and glory salvador federico leonardo sbaraglia antonio banderas

The return of a friend

Almodóvar always has a vision, and like his films or not, you are always going to leave with a movie that feels original.  Pain and Glory feels (like many of his films) to be a real personal film.  There are themes in the movie which echo Almodóvar’s life…but it is also a work of fiction that movie cleverly wraps around.

The film has the ailing and older director reflecting on his life as a child.  The more he uses heroin and drugs the more of his past opens up.  You can see his childhood, his mother, and the early events that shaped him.  As he’s doing this, he is coming to terms with his past and the mental (and physical pain he feels).  While this seems like pretty standard fair (though good), the movie places a question on the reality we are seeing at the end by showing that the actors in Salvador’s newest film are the stars of his flashback.  It gives a bit of leeway to his storytelling…is everything true or is this his perception of his past?

Antonio Banderas is an odd actor.  At his most popular time, he felt a bit like a generic action star and took roles in movies where he didn’t have to flex his acting ability much.  As he’s aged, he’s turned into a great actor that has much more range.  He’s great in this film which has him old and broken…it feels real.  While there are other notable actors in the film, the movie really belong to Banderas (though I do like Penélope Cruz’s supporting role).

pain and glory ending penelope cruz

Is this his past or just his perception of his past?

The film looks great.  It feels completely modern and crisp.  There is an interesting display of the pain the character is feeling and experiencing in the movie which in a normal film would feel out of place, but Almodóvar manages to weave it in smartly.  I like that he also doesn’t play up the location.  Often in foreign movies (especially those that might be seen by overseas audiences), the location becomes a character itself when it doesn’t need to be.  Here, the characters’ world is just a day-to-day world…they aren’t visiting landmarks all the time.

Pain and Glory is a solid drama but also creative enough to feel bigger than your standard drama.  The acting is top notch, and Banderas is great.  I look forward to what both Almodóvar and Banderas bring in the future.  I could also see a revisiting of this character in later years…maybe see what has become of his life as he renews his career for a second wind.

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Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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