2019 Film Reviews – 53: Pain & Glory [dir. Pedro Almodóvar; 2019]

It’s a testament to Almodóvar’s skills as a storyteller – and to the trust he places in his team – that one of the most memorable sequences in Pain & Glory was written a mere day before it was filmed, in response to the director seeing how a particular actress played her character. The scene in question – wherein Antonio Banderas’ frustrated movie-maker confronts his mother with painful truths from the past – is characteristic of the film as a whole, contrasting fearless, difficult observations with warmth, open-heartedness and an acceptance of human frailty. It is these attributes that weave the somewhat meandering elements of the plot together and make the whole one of the most moving explorations of creativity and nostalgia that Almodóvar has ever given us. And, in a film filled with excellent performances, Banderas’ is perhaps the most subtle, nuanced of his career. 


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