Pain and Glory

Pain and Glory ★★★★½

On nights when various pains coincide, that's when I believe in God and I pray to him. The days when I only suffer one kind of pain; I'm an atheist.

I'm not acquainted with Almodóvar's filmography, but this doesn't take away from the certainty that he has ultimately presented to me a piece of his existence; vulnurable like an origami; fragile like thin glass. Almodóvar's slow and controlled hands guiding the camera lend his film a sensitivity which solicits contact with prudence, as paralleled, Banderas' ailing Salvador Mallo - the alter-ego of the director - must be treated in the same way. At the seeming end of a prolific career, Mallo confronts creative stagnation and physical weakening - a shadow of his former self - finding comfort in heroin; an image put in contrast with Pain and Glory's string of narrative lead by a strong performance from Penélope Cruz where the protagonist evinces thirst for knowledge and a fierce intellectual power to further raise the degree of his present misery. There's an oppressive force tormenting Mallo, and despite of the rather emotionally stable figure of the film- never leaning into loud melodrama nor blithsomeness, although more subdued moments occur - I was able to share his pain.

Nonetheless, his catharsis is truly peculiar and blatantly displayed. The blood red permeates Almodóvar's work; applied on furniture and clothes, the hue represents the anguish of the writer, at times replaced or overlapped by greens - I like olive greens - to denote a betterment.

Don't cry. Actors take any opportunity to cry. The better actor isn't the one who cries; it's the one who fights to hold back their tears.

So, the one who doesn't desperately seek empathy with ostentatious efforts. As poignant as Banderas plays his character, he yet remains incredibly serene, and this unusual range he brings to Pain and Glory is perplexingly soothing.

( 2019 | 2020: First Time )

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