Dolor y gloria [Pain and Glory] (2019)

Dolor y gloria
Director: Pedro Almodóvar
Writer: Pedro Almodóvar
Cast: Antonio Banderas, Asier Etxeandia, Leonardo Sbaraglia, Nora Navas, Julieta Serrano, César Vicente, Asier Flores, Penélope Cruz, Cecilia Roth, Susi Sánchez, Raúl Arévalo
Seen on: 27.8.2019

Salvador Mallo (Antonio Banderas) used to be a great director, but his career has been declining in recent years, as has his health. Now that the re-release of his first big hit is in the works, an even that brings back its lead actor Alberto Crespo (Asier Etxeandia) into Salvador’s life, Salvador starts to reminisce about his childhood (Asier Flores) with his mother (Penélope Cruz) and his forming encounters with art.

After a series of more disappointing films, Dolor y gloria was a return to form for Almodóvar. Probably still not my favorite of his films, but really good.

The film poster showing Salvador (Antonio Banderas) in profile, looking down and right. Behind him on the red background is a shadow that is similar to him but is looking straight ahead to the left.

Dolor y gloria has two big stars: Banderas and Almodóvar’s apartment where a lot of the film was shot. The former was simply glorious in one of the best performances of his career, I’d say. The latter was simply wonderful to look at. Beautiful and filled to the brim with details and art that I was almost wishing for just a 10 minute tour of it in the middle of the film, so I could get a closer look.

The plot of the film is nothing to write home about. It might have hit me differently if I had been older already and more preoccupied with growing old and leaving behind a legacy. But really, I think it’s because the story is just not the point of the film. It’s a film about relationships after all, and about art itself.

Salvador (Antonio Banderas) and Mercedes (Nora Navas) sitting at a table, looking worried.

Salvador’s relationship with Crespo was interesting to watch, and his childhood memories were extremely well-captured. They are the heart of the film, and it’s an expressive, emotional heart.

The film does have some lengths in the middle (time I would have rather spent looking at Almodóvar’s apartment), but other than that, I really enjoyed it. I hope this means a turn for Almodóvar, back to the excellent films that I know he can make but that I’ve been missing in recent years.

Young Salvador (Asier Flores) arrives in his new home with his parents (Penélope Cruz and Raúl Arévalo).

Summarizing: very fine.

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