Pain and Glory film review: visually vibrant

Antonio Banderas as Salvador Mallo in Pain and Glory
Antonio Banderas as Salvador Mallo in Pain and Glory

AN intro of swirling colours somewhere between a bath bomb in water and the endpapers of a hardback novel sets the tone for this visually vibrant film that examines the life of an aging film director.

Salvador Mallo (Antonio Banderas) suffers from a plethora of ailments that prevent him from continuing to make films, though one of his earlier films Sabor has been remastered and re-released to much acclaim.

He is reunited with the star of that film Alberto (Asier Etxeandia) after years of falling out, who introduces him to heroin.

Salvador’s drug-induced dreams flash back to his life living in caves in rural Spain with his mother Jacinta (Penelope Cruz) and her determination to get him a good education despite their lack of money.

Asier Flores as young Salvador Mallo, Penélope Cruz as Jacinta Mallo and Raúl Arévalo as Venancio Mallo

Pain and Glory plays around with the idea of stories within stories, of art as a form of communication between the past and the present, of pain as both an inhibitor and an instigator of creativity.

Yet the film never feels like it can settle, always flitting between the sunshine of Salvador’s youth and the moroseness of his current state.

Despite his misery guts of a character, Banderas is charming in this role, clothed in stunning bright colours and framed beautifully whether in his stylish apartment or in front of an unusually picturesque wall in a doctor’s waiting room.

Slow and pondering in one moment, passionate and emotional the next, Pain and Glory is a mixed bag of a film that does not quite reach its potential.


Pain and Glory (MA)

Director: Pedro Almodóvar

Starring: Antonio Banderas, Penelope Cruz, Asier Etxeandia

Three and a half stars

In cinemas now

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