Pain and Glory
This film has far more substance than other critically praised films like Parasite.
While critics tend to stumble over themselves to praise any movie by Mr. Almodóvar, this film proves to be worthy of all of its acclaim. Almodóvar uses his own life to describe what happens to many accomplished members of the movie industry when they reach the other side of fame.
Highly praised at the recent Cannes Film Festival, the movie tells a story of an accomplished film writer and director whose life is left in turmoil. Antonio Banderas, appearing as Almodóvar’s alter ego Salvador Mallo, gives a devastating performance as a famed director dancing on the edge of destruction. Following his life from a young child through his glory years, Banderas is at all times captivating as a guy whose physical and emotional problems dominate his everyday life.
In the process, we watch Banderas reflect on a childhood with enormous regret. Raised by a loving mother, played memorably by Penelope Cruz, in a small village in Madrid where his home resembled a cave, he harbored resentment for a mother who sent him to a seminary for an education solely so he could succeed in the world. As a man in his twilight years, Banderas had to confront the sad fact that his mother never considered him to be a good son as a result of his angry conduct in this matter.
The film’s greatest moments concern Banderas’ attempts to confront his past and the meaningful people who played a role in his success. Though he seeks to largely remain alone by using heroin to diminish the agony flowing from his many physical problems, various meaningful characters emerged from his past that help him escape his misery. That centers largely on the role of Asier Etxeandia as the actor in one of Mallo’s greatest films and Leonardo Sbaraglia as Federico, a former lover that he still greatly admires and respects.
In any event, this is one of those films that is easy to ignore after watching the trailer which was as annoying as it was misleading. This movie at its heart deals with the struggles we all have in life as we age, and you leave the theatre feeling a bit relieved knowing you are not alone.