A review of the Spanish film “Pain And Glory”

Described as the third part of an “unplanned trilogy” which began with “Law Of Desire” (1987) and continued through “Bad Education” (2004), it is not necessary to have seen the earlier films (I haven’t) to enjoy the final part of this triptych written and directed by the Spanish Pedro Almodóvar, but it helps if you’re comfortable with subtitles (there is a lot of dialogue) and, if you’ve savoured any of his previous movies (I have), you’ll be ready for his wonderful use of colour (starting this time with the opening credits) and recurrent themes of his homosexuality and his relation to his mother.

In this semi-autobiographical work, film-maker Salvador Mallo, brilliantly represented by Antonio Banderas at his best, faces a whole variety of physical and psychological challenges which are preventing him from writing or directing again and his recourse to heroin (rarely has a mainstream movie showed so much chasing of the dragon) is not helping, although it is facilitating a series of flash-backs to his childhood when his mother – played by the delightful Penélope Cruz – is a powerful influence. 

In this accomplished and engaging story, there is a lot of pain – both of body and mind – before the glory of reunion and redemption with a clever reveal in the final scene. 


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