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Pain and Glory

(Spanish) Salvador Mallo (played by Antonio Banderas) is an aging film director who is long past the zenith of his career. He suffers from numerous physical and psychological maladies and has turned to using heroin to dull the pain. The film explores Salvador’s life at four key points in time: His early childhood with his mother, a defining romantic relationship in his life, his relationship with his mother at the end of her life, and the present. The way Almodovar weaves the stories together is exquisite. He uses flashbacks but also does something unique in using the stage to tell one of the stories. There is Almodovar’s signature use of vivid, eye-popping colors that intensifies the emotional resonance of the film. Antonio Banderas gives an incredibly deep and nuanced performance, probably the performance of his career, as a guy struggling with finding meaning as he nears the end of his life. I am not sure how much of the film is autobiographical, but the story feels deeply personal yet universal in its themes of memories, loves, and loss. I absolutely loved the film; I did not expect to laugh and to be moved as much as I was, to appreciate the small yet beautiful moments that memories provide. Huge thumbs up from me. I think this is one of Almodovar’s best films and his most personal one, and one that I think would resonate with just about everyone. (2019; 5 Stars)

About Gary Burkholder

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