“Pain and Glory” (Spanish: Dolor y gloria) is a Spanish drama directed and written by Pedro Almodóvar. The film narrates a series of reunions of Salvador Mallo, a film director in his decline. Foreign language films are sometimes hard to follow because of the captions but are usually worth the effort. “Pain and Glory” is worth the effort but you will need to read quickly.
Salvador Mallo (Antonio Banderas), is a Spanish film director on a downward spiral. The film is featured through a series of complex reunions. Some of these reunions play out in real-time, while others are recalled through flashbacks such as his life in the 1960s when he moved with his family to the primitive village of Paterna, his schooling, his first love during the 1980s in Madrid, the pain of his breakup, writing used as a therapy to forget, the discovery of cinema and facing the impossibility of continuing filming, to name a few. While in the middle of a creative crisis and afflicted with physical and mental ailments, an earlier film of Salvador’s (Sabor, or Flavor) has been remastered and re-released. Prompted by his assistant Zulema (Cecilia Roth) he calls in on Alberto Crespo (Asier Etxeandia), the lead actor from Sabor, with whom he has not spoken for 30 years due to a quarrel over the influence of the actor’s heroin use on his performance. Crespo introduces Salvador to heroin smoking. When taking the drug Salvador revisits some of his experiences: one takes place during his childhood, where he moves into a whitewashed cave house with his father Venancio Mallo (Raúl Arévalo) and mother Jacinta (Penelope Cruz), and a local laborer named Eduardo (César Vicente) who learns to read and write under his tutelage. Crespo brings a monologue of Salvador’s memories from 1980s Madrid to the stage in which Salvador’s lover Federico (Leonardo Sbaraglia) is mentioned.
“Pain and Glory” is not for everyone but it is a good movie. I thought it was a little dry, as there was not much action. I found it a little hard to keep up with the captions but I got enough out of the movie to determine the status of what I saw. On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 97% based on 263 reviews, with an average rating of 8.33/10. “Pain and Glory” was chosen by Time magazine as the best film of 2019. The film drew more than 45,000 moviegoers in Spain on the Friday of release, making it the most-viewed film in the country of that day. Worldwide, Pain and Glory has accrued $36.6 million. Check It Out!
[PAIN AND GLORY is Oscar-nominated for Best Actor and Best International Feature Film — totaling 2 Oscar nominations.]