Browse all reviews by letter     A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z 0 - 9

aka - Dolor y Gloria
Spain 2019
Directed by
Pedro Almodovar
114 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3.5 stars

Pain and Glory

Synopsis:  An aging Spanish film director Salvador Mallo (Antonio Banderas) in the middle of a creative crisis reflects on his past.

Pain and Glory is a modest but tender film that reworks many of the elements of Pedro Almodóvar’s oeuvre. Themes of mortality and memory, desire and loss, art and life, not to mention a deliciously colourful production design and the collaboration of Antonio Banderas, Penélope Cruz  and Cecilia Roth will all be familiar to those who have followed the director’s work over the years.

Much as is the case for those other well-known transubstantiators, Woody Allen and Frederic o Fellini, Salvador Mallo is Almodóvar’s alter ego, a famous auteur director who has stopped working because of a raft of chronic illnesses.  A restoration and release of a film of his from thirty years previously leads him to re-connect with its star Alberto Crespo (Asier Etxeandia) with whom he has not spoken since they fell out during its making. This in turn prompts him to reflect on how his adult life has been shaped  by his childhood and particularly the influence of his feisty mother (Cruz). His connection with Alberto also leads to a unlooked-for re-union with a former lover (Leonardo Sbaraglia).

Almodóvar weaves these elements into a jewel-like portrait of the artist as a too-rapidly aging man with Banderas giving a compelling and gracious central performance. Whilst the film is more a collection of vignettes than a sustained drama, it is evidently a labour of love in which the director gives up himself and his audience to pure art for art’s sake pleasure as a kind of necessary counter-balance to the essential sadness of life – a group of women washing clothes and singing by a crystal clear river, the whitewashed walls of Salvador’s subterranean childhood home and the heavily decorative interior of his Madrid apartment make visually marvelous settings for the unfolding of the narrative whilst the contemporary wardrobe is almost distracting in the carefulness of it choices.

Pain and Glory is a masterfully-wrought artisanal film that gives  pleasure without breaking any new ground.




Want more about this film?

search youtube  search wikipedia  

Want something different?

random vintage best worst