Pain and Glory
An aging director looks back.
“Every Pedro Almodóvar film fairly drips with autofiction,” said Ella Taylor in NPR.org. But the wonderful new drama from the 70-year-old former renegade cuts especially close to the bone because it centers on a fictional Spanish filmmaker, Salvador Mallo, who is wondering how much fire he has left. Almodóvar’s stand-in, played by Antonio Banderas, suffers various health problems that are keeping him sidelined, and so, while awaiting the re-release of an old film, he retreats into memories of childhood. If you’re new to Almodóvar, Pain and Glory is “probably too small, too sad, and too obtuse to recommend as any kind of starting point,” said Leah Greenblatt in Entertainment Weekly. But to fans, who will be happy to see Penélope Cruz, an Almodóvar muse, playing Salva’s mother, the movie is “a gift; the kind of quiet glory worth waiting a few decades for.” There’s something thrilling in its honesty, said Anthony Lane in The New Yorker. When Salva’s mother tells him he hasn’t been a good son, we feel the line “like a slap in the face.” Though nothing about aging is easy, Salva is revived by his own storytelling. “The glory flows from the pain.” ■