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Pain and Glory

This screening took place on
Monday, October 28, 2019 at 8:15pm

A deeply personal work from one of the world's foremost filmmakers, Pain and Glory is pure Almodóvar: inventive and irreverent, poignant and exhilarating. Chronicling the existential odyssey of a filmmaker confronting the autumn of his life, the Spanish auteur's 21st feature immerses us in the thrall of memory (and the fleeting bliss of narcotics) while celebrating art as a balm for the burdens of mortality.

Afflicted with creative stagnancy and a cluster of physical ailments, Salvador (Antonio Banderas, who won the Best Actor prize at Cannes for his performance) finds himself drifting into uncharted waters when a revival screening of his controversial classic Sabor reunites him with that film's star, Alberto (Asier Etxeandia).

A longtime junkie, Alberto lures Salvador into seeking solace in opiates, and also reminds him of a script that Salvador wrote and abandoned long ago. Along with this forgotten text comes a flood of old acquaintances and vivid memories, some involving Salvador's beloved mother (Penélope Cruz), others to do with an old flame ravaged by addiction.

Spanish with English subtitles

"Pedro Almodóvar's sublime Pain and Glory, a story of memory and creation, youth and its loss, circles around the idea of art as self-creation." Manohla Dargis, The NY Times

Content warning for language, recreational drug use and remembrance of debauches past.

Common Sense rates: 17+

The film addresses mature topics like aging and death, drug addiction, and desire. And it returns to themes -- some auto-biographical -- that are present in many of his films, including dominant mother figures, Catholic schooling, Spain's urban/rural divide, the power of the movies, sexual identity, creative drive, and love.

Some subjects will fly over younger heads, like the long medical explanations of various age-related ailments and how such ailments affect people psychologically, but be ready for full-frontal male nudity, passionate kissing, a mother's aging and death, and characters casually snorting, smoking, and discussing heroin.

TIFF REVIEW: Almodovar’s Cinema Paradiso

"Toward the end of this slight but entertaining bit of meta from Pedro Almodovar, a film director’s old mother tells her son that her neighbours back in the village are sick of seeing themselves portrayed in his movies. Enough of the autofiction, she says. That’s one of several wry in-jokes in Almodovar’s sentimental look at artistic inspiration, said to be only lightly inspired by his own life. Antonio Banderas plays an aging gay filmmaker with numerous ailments and a creative block that is cleared by a daisy chain of coincidental encounters with figures from his past. Penelope Cruz plays his mother in rose-tinted flashbacks – well, they are his memories, why shouldn’t they be nostalgic? – while in the present even a brush with heroin addiction can’t dampen Almodovar’s signature blend of melodrama, humour and gorgeous colours. Asier Etxeandia occasionally threatens to steal the show with his delicious turn as an exuberant addict, but perhaps the bravest thing here is Banderas’ reserved performance: Selfish, hypochondriacal and sadly cocooned, his fictional film director is not a flattering portrait of an aging auteur."

– Kate Taylor, The Globe and Mail

  • Directed by Pedro Almodóvar
  • 2019, Spain
  • 112 minutes
  • Film Subtitled

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