Pain and Glory

Pain and Glory ★★★★½

"The nights that coincide with various pains, those nights I believe in God and I pray to Him. The days when I only suffer one kind of pain, I'm an atheist."

The extent of the deep intimacy present in Dolor y Gloria was almost overwhelming to me. This frank autobiographical portrait is one I found myself entranced by. Part of that is because I can relate to Pedro Almodóvar's proxy, Salvador, in more ways than one.

The character, sublimely played by Antonio Banderas (the flat-out best work I've seen from him to date) carries with him a world-weariness that speaks to decades enduring life's waxing and waning. He's a man in need of a particular kind of revelation--one that will jostle him out of existential resignation. It's heady stuff that is played deeply straight. No amount of aesthetically divine color compositions can detract from the film's authentic depiction of it's subject's melancholia.

The pacing is deliberately pensive but the way I became invested in the narrative made me yearn for the film to go on for far longer than it does. Every splash of memory represented feels earned. Despite Banderas's absence, I found the childhood-focused scenes to be strong foils for their present day counterparts. It helps that the scenes are anchored by yet another unbelievably talented youngster (future Oscar winner Asier Flores) and that they feature Penelope Cruz, who is as reliable as ever.

The entire enterprise has a specialness to it--a sense that we're being made privy to the kind of truths that can evoke self-examinations and self-acceptance. In a sense, this is Almodóvar inviting us into his therapy sessions. I loved so much about this and will certainly be thinking about it for days. Easily one of 2019's best and a tender experience worth recommending emphatically.

P.S. Can movies that simultaneously make you want to curl up into a ball while providing a sense of comfort please come with a warning label?

Scavenger Hunt 56 3/30 - 1) Watch a film about a breakup (stretching a bit but this is definitely a factor).

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