Pain and Glory (2019)—Spain
This autobiographical drama by the Spanish writer-director Pedro Almodóvar debuted at the Cannes film festival in 2019, where it was nominated for four awards and Antonio Banderas won the award for Best Actor. Banderas plays a famous film maker named Salvador Mallo, who is battling the many indignities of growing old, despite his international success. He lives alone in Madrid, and is struggling in body, mind, and spirit ("My specialty is headaches"). This leads him to reflect on his life and mortality, where he came from and what he has become. And so the story proceeds with repeated flashbacks to his boyhood in an impoverished village (Penélope Cruz plays his mother Jacinta), to his first gay lover in Madrid, to his relationship with his dying mother (who accuses him of having abandoned her and of not having been a good son), and to recreated moments in the present, like when he reconnects with an actor in one of his films that he hasn't seen in thirty years (and who introduces him to heroin). He is clinically depressed and can't work, but he also knows that art and film have been his life, and that without them he is nothing. Every life is a mystery of history, Almodóvar seems to say, a perplexing combination of pain and glory. In Spanish with English subtitles.
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