• Gareth Crook

Pain and Glory (2019)

There’s something about Spanish cinema, a richness, a tone, something mysterious you have to work for. I’m probably being overly romantic, I get the same with other foreign language films, but French can often be a bit darker or quirky, Polish stark, you get the idea. Almodóvar films are in high regard too, All About My Mother was one of the first foreign language films I remember seeing in the cinema and I was struck. Add a cast with Banderas and Cruz and expectations are rather high. Banderas is central as Salvador, it’s a retelling of his life through his eyes, the influence of his mother and childhood experiences, educated by life and his world as a film director. Now retired, lonely, in poor health and reflecting on his life, the opportunity arises to introduce one of his restored films at a screening in Madrid. This involves reconnecting with Alberto, the lead actor of their joint venture some 30 years ago, whom he’s not seen since the premier having fallen out over the vision for the film. His reintroduction to Alberto, also introduces him to heroin, the source of tension decades earlier. His deteriorating health and daily pain, see him take his medicating into his own hands, escaping his depression at no longer having the stamina to be on set. Banderas is pretty damn awesome, he carries this effortlessly, but the whole thing is pretty great to be fair. It looks so relaxed, but paints such drama. As Salvador and Alberto bond once more, the extent of their history reveals more about Salvador and his experiences as a gay man in the 1980s. Now writing again, he allows Alberto to explore this new work on the theatre stage, whilst Salvador chooses to remain in the shadows, but he can’t hide from his past catching up with him or the pain in the present.


8/10



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