Spanish director Pedro Almódovar never wanted to write an autobiography. Instead, he joins in PAIN AND GLORY is now presenting a film strongly inspired by his own life, in which Antonio Banderas performs better than he has in a long time. We reveal more about this in our review.
Eduardo (César Vicente) shows his portrait to young Salvador Mallo (Asier Flores).
The plot summary
Director Salvador Mallo (Antonio Banderas) discovered his passion for great cinema and the stories it tells early on. Growing up in Valencia in the 1960s, raised by his loving mother (Penélope Cruz), who wants a better life for him, he moves to Madrid in the 1980s. There he meets Federico (Leonardo Sbaraglia), an encounter that will change his life completely. Marked by his excessive life, Salvador now looks back on the years in which he celebrated great success as a director, suffered painful losses, but also became one of the most innovative and successful filmmakers in Spain. Through the journey into his past and the need to tell it, Salvador finds the way to a new life…
Pain and Glory Movie Meaning & ending
Pedro Almódovar (“The Skin I Live In”) has already worked with superstar Antonio Banderas (“Knight of Cups”) seven times . So it makes sense that he is back on board in his new film “Suffering and Glory”, because who else should embody the image of the successful Spanish director other than his long-time companion? Image because “Suffering and Glory,” which celebrated its world premiere at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, is broadly a biopic. Many of the motifs described here can be derived directly or indirectly from Almódovar’s life; Above all, the suffering, consisting of physical ailments and the difficult circumstances in which the filmmaker, who was born in the Spanish province of Ciudad Real, grew up. But also the glory in the form of his mother, who always loves him deeply (the mother motif is not for the first time one of his central pivot points in the film) and the self-sacrificing commitment to the self-image of homosexuality. The now 69-year-old has discussed the extent to which topics such as late drug use (in the film, the main character takes heroin for the first time at the age of 60) can be explicitly traced back to Almódovar’s life, or are simply a motivic equivalent of some other vice so far kept quiet. And perhaps that is the best approach to add fascination to a film like “Suffering and Glory” beyond its beguiling beauty and thoroughly melancholic narrative. What is real and what is not? Almódovar once again plays with different levels of perception and thereby presents a film that is also intoxicating for viewers outside of his hobby.
Salvador Mallo and his ex-lover Federico (Leonardo Sbaraglia) meet again after more than 20 years
A look at how big Almódovar intended his new film to be in his previous CV reveals how big it is: “Suffering and Glory” is not just the conclusion of a trilogy; After “The Law of Desire” (1987) and “La Mala Educación – Bad Education” (2004), this is now the third film with a film director as the protagonist, in which desire and cinematic storytelling play an important role. But the internal structure of the film also shows the unusually expansive dimensions for Almódovar, away from the narrative intimacy that is otherwise usual for him. Insights into the childhood of his protagonist Salvador serve as a dramaturgical bracket. In between, we see the aged Salvador as one of the most popular Spanish filmmakers of today fighting his physical fatigue. In between, Almódovar jumps several times to other parts of Salvador’s life; to an audition in the boys’ choir, to one of the last conversations with his doomed mother or in flashbacks to the time when the young Salvador spent the evenings of his childhood in front of the backdrop of the open-air cinema he had built himself (“The cinema of my childhood smelled of piss. “) All of these are moments in which you can’t shake the feeling that Almódovar is primarily concerned with a declaration of love for his past, derived from the bright, lavish colors in which cameraman José Luis Alcaine (” Open Secret”) depicts the action captures, perhaps even a little of himself. No trace of reckoning.
Then again, Almódovar – needless to say that he also wrote the script himself – becomes remarkably self-critical. In particular, Salvador Mallo’s encounters with the actor Alberto (Asier Etxeandia, “Ma Ma – The Origin of Love” ) are both calculating and remorseful. The relationship between the two men – Salvador, as a director, was once dissatisfied with Alberto’s performance in his successful film “Sabor”, which caused the friendship between the two to break down – is still difficult today. Due to the restoration of “Sabor” and a subsequent performance, the dispute between the two men should be resolved; However, their powerful egos stand in their way. Similar to the heroin consumption that began in this context, to which Almódovar structurally devotes an entire chapter (“Dependence”), it is never quite clear in this part of the film where the director got his inspiration from. Nothing about such quarrels with former actors was ever made public. When asked if “Sorrow and Glory” was based on his life, he replied “No, and yes, definitely.” – a quote that made it into the trailer and leaves the viewer both perplexed and fascinated by it leaves canvas behind. It feels unusual that an artist voluntarily puts himself in a rather unglamorous light, and perhaps even more than he has to. After all, he didn’t even need to mention the phase of heroin consumption, especially when it has no authentic correspondence to Almódovar’s real life. Especially since in the film he seems as if Salvador simply wants to please his former friend. This always offends the viewer, but makes the protagonist a far more attractive figure than if he were denied such rough edges. And in the end, Almódovar’s main goal is to make a complex and entertaining film. And who knows? Maybe these screen events correspond more to the real Almódovar than we and he himself would like!?
Due to the directing, which sometimes adapts to the clumsiness of the protagonist (particularly in the middle part, “Pain and Glory” is a little on the spot) and the film music, which gives the whole thing a really suffering look (Alberto Iglesias, “Julieta”), which is dominated by theatrical strings in an almost eccentric way, the film has an inherent melancholy that couldn’t describe the protagonist’s state of mind better. And yet Pain and Glory is not an exclusively painful film. Instead, Almódovar lets the beautiful and tragic events of his life go hand in hand. The joy of applause and recognition finds its place here, as do farewells or the pain of love, which the storyteller juxtaposes with images of innocent growing up. Antonio Banderas combines all of this in one of his best roles ever, precisely because he never adopts the mannerisms of the real Almódovar. His Salvador is a completely independent character; difficult to grasp, with understandable problems that you want to shake as often as you want to hug. Penélope Cruz acts on an equal level with him (“Murder on the Orient Express”) in the role of the mother, who is equally concerned and resolute about her boy. Without hiding her poor living conditions, she manages to make the viewer feel the homely feeling that she once gave Salvador. Without over-stylization, the mother also becomes an unshakable protective figure in “Pain and Glory”. Finally, one of the last dialogues between mother and son is the accusation that Salvador “never a good son” one wonders why.
Conclusion: It’s not just the question of which of the events described here are actually based on the director’s life that makes “Sorrow and Glory” such a fascinating cinematic experience. Aside from smaller lengths, Pedro Almódovar’s autobiographical drama is a love letter to life with all its pain, its triumphs, the emptiness and the beauty that can sometimes overwhelm you.
“Pain and Glory” can be seen in selected USA cinemas from July 25th.