Every actor or director has that ONE project that has becomes synonymous with their name ultimately defining their career and they lives for eternity . For Salvador Mallo (Antonio Banderas), he 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). Of course, there’s all the drama that comes along with it including a flood of old acquaintances and vivid memories involving Salvador’s beloved mother, Jacinta (Penélope Cruz) and being reunited with an old flame who was ravaged by addiction. He’s gravely depressed, his body seems to have permanently surrendered to its ailments including and not limited to a bad back, migraines, asthma and fits of terrifying, mysterious choking (literally on air).
Infused with dazzling color and emotional dynamism, Pain and Glory marks another beautiful work thanks sot eh genius of Pedro Almodovar. His color palate is exquisitely used to propel the story in terms of red, blue and gold. Red represents the passion of Mallo’s life, blue – the pain and coldness that comes along with his addiction and gold – a ribbon of celebratory moments scattered throughout his life and his career. It’s the cast, however, who render this memoir-fiction hybrid so achingly resonant. Cruz, who was nominated for an Oscar for her work in Almodóvar’s Volver, permeates her role as Mallo’s Mom Jacinta with trademark vivaciousness. There isn’t one false note in any frame she inhabits.
However, for me, this is by far Antonio Banderas’ best role duo date. He has never been more charismatic and moving in a role grounded in authenticity and elevated by soaring wild imagination. In the opening, we meet Salvador floating at the bottom of a pool, where the camera zooms into scars on his back and the calm anguish on his face surrounded in blue tells you all you need to know.
There are numerous scenes that resonated, but the two most searing moment is between Salvador and his mother as she prepares to leave this realm. It tis the consequential tribute that most sons would love to have just one last time with their mothers. I also enjoyed the scene where Mallo unexpectedly reunites with his former lover. The scene is tasteful, poignant and immensely moving.
Produced by Sony Pictures Classics and Pedro Almodovar, Pain and Glory is in theaters right now and is a glorious piece of cinema that should be seen by all.