Thursday, 12 December 2019

Self-examination is route to inspiration

Self-examination is route to inspiration

SPANISH auteur Pedro Almodóvar returns with Pain and Glory, a highly personal tale of a director in his twilight years who reflects on the choices he’s made in life.

Antonio Banderas stars as Salvador Mallo who is in a creative crisis and begins experimenting with drugs in the run-up to a local career retrospective of his work.

There’s no doubt that he is playing a version of the Academy Award-winning director himself and Banderas has already won the 2019 Best Actor prize at the Cannes Film Festival for his portrayal.

Salvador has not made anything for years but he has acquired sufficient wealth to live comfortably among expensive artworks, agonising over his various ailments, both physical and mental, which all seem to enhance his creative block.

Pain and Glory takes you inside his mind as he reflects on his personal and professional past.

Through a sequence of flashbacks and present-day encounters, we revisit some of his most important relationships, with his mother, his former leading man and his early loves.

Some of these are in the flesh, others are remembered. We visit his childhood in the Sixties, moving to a village in Valencia with his parents, his first adult relationship in Madrid in the Eighties and the hurt he suffers after this ends.

We then find out how he discovered cinema and what brought him to his present difficulties in coming up with fresh ideas. It is this need to recount his past that sets Salvador on the path of salvation.

Penélope Cruz co-stars, playing Salvador’s mother, but the cast also features several break-out performances, including Asier Etxeandia as Alberto, who was previously a creative force for Salvador but is now a high-functioning heroin addict.

Newcomer César Vicente plays labourer Eduardo, who inspired Salvador’s sexual awakening as a child, as revealed in poignant flashbacks that are skilfully shot and edited.

The film also features another emotive score from Alberto Iglesias, who won Best Composer at Cannes, and pop-coloured cinematography from Almodóvar’s trusted collaborator José Luis Alcaine.

Almodóvar won the Oscar for his 1999 film All About My Mother. If that was a tribute to the onscreen women who inspired him and the women who raised him, then Pain and Glory is perhaps Almodóvar looking closely at himself and his life and career.

Pain and Glory is now showing at Henley’s Regal Picturehouse cinema.

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