Pain and Glory (2019) Review

Time: 113 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence, offensive language, drug use & nudity
Antonio Banderas as Salvador Mallo
Penélope Cruz as Jacinta Mallo
Raúl Arévalo as Salvador’s father
Leonardo Sbaraglia as Federico
Asier Etxeandia as Alberto Crespo
Nora Navas as Mercedes
Julieta Serrano as Jacinta Mallo (old age)
Director: Pedro Almodóvar

The protagonist of “Pain and Glory” (Antonio Banderas) was at the decline of his career. The man involuntarily looks back into the past, and a stream of vivid memories falls upon him. He recalls such moments from his youth as tender feelings for his mother, love and separation, the search for happiness and success. All this leads the master of cinema to important thoughts about life and art, because this is the most important thing for him.

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I heard about Pain and Glory a little bit beforehand, mainly that Antonio Banderas won Best Actor at the Cannes Film Festival for his performance in it. Otherwise I didn’t really know much about the movie, aside from hearing some people say that it was good. Indeed Banderas is great and lived up to all the praise, but the movie itself was also pretty good on it’s own, definitely worth a watch.

Pain and Glory is a very contemplative movie as it’s about Antonio Banderas’s character looking back at his life. Now I don’t know much about the writer/director, but the story does feel very personal to him (especially given that the protagonist is a director and all that), and it certainly comes across throughout the entire runtime. Thankfully there is some self awareness at the same time, and indeed the movie has its light hearted moments. Pain and Glory is very slow and meditative. The first half took a while for the movie to really hook me. Not say that it was boring or anything, it was decent but I wasn’t invested quite yet. Also while the flashbacks to when main character Salvador was younger were necessary and played a part later in the story, it took me out of the movie more than anything. With that said, when it came to the flashbacks in the second half, I thought they really worked and added a lot. In fact it was the second half that made the movie work for me, from that halfway point that’s where it really picked up. Admittedly, I can’t tell whether it’s truly because the second half is better or if the movie has grown on me just thinking about it, maybe a little bit of both. Without revealing anything, the ending for Pain and Glory is absolutely perfect, and I couldn’t think of a better way of concluding the story.

I have seen Antonio Banderas in a fair number of things and he’s generally been quite good, but admittedly haven’t seen him in a lot. However a lot of people are touting this as a career best from him, and looking at his performance here, I can definitely believe that. This movie entirely surrounds his character looking back at his life and Banderas plays his part beautifully. The supporting cast were also good and add quite a lot in their comparatively smaller screentime. The standouts were the significant people in Salvador’s life, like Penelope Cruz and Julieta Serrano as the younger and older versions of Banderas’s mother, as well as Leonardo Sbaraglia in his 2 scenes.

This is the first film I’ve seen from director Pedro Almodóvar, and from his work on Pain and Glory, I’d definitely like to see more of his movies. Its wonderfully shot, the cinematography is very vibrant and warm, and fitted very well with the movie. Overall it’s a very well directed and put together movie.

Pain and Glory is an emotional, personal and intimate movie, very well written and directed by Almodovar and with an excellent lead performance from Antonio Banderas. By the second half of the movie I was fully invested in this story. It really is a movie that grows on you the more you think about it. I think it’s worth seeing for Banderas’s great performance at the very least.


1 thought on “Pain and Glory (2019) Review

  1. Pingback: Top 30 Best Films of 2019 | The Cinema Critic

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