There is excitement whenever the name Pedro Almodovar is brought up. Films like “All About My Mother” were hits for the Spanish director. With his newest film “Pain and Glory,” there is something to look forward to.
“Pain and Glory” follows the life of Salvador Mallo, a famous Spanish director reflecting on his life while trying to come up with an idea for a new project. He also struggles with heroin addiction while dealing with chronic pain.
Antonio Banderas is magnificent as Mallo. He provides a riveting performance unlike most I have seen this year. Banderas won a well-deserved Best Actor award at this year’s Cannes International Film Festival for his performance as Mallo.
Penelope Cruz is featured as a younger version of Mallo’s mother and she gives an incredible performance. She is strict but also loving to a young Mallo.
While the film is generally well-written, it feels dry at points compared to “All About My Mother.” The lack of dramatic tension makes the film feel relaxed, but it also makes it slower than it needs to be. The comedy and drama incorporated into the plot are nice additions to the story.
The plot is simple and the characters feel in place with the environment, but there are points where I wish they had proper endings to their storylines. Also the ending feels very abrupt and kind of puzzling. The rest of the film, however, feels coherent and passes as a good story.
The production design feels modern without being overwhelming. Set in Spain, the architecture and scenery match the setting and do not feel tacky or out of place. The editing is also very smooth and easy on the eyes. While I wish it would have been a little more creative, the editing is serviceable and will please most film-goers.
The score by Alberto Iglesias is wonderful, lush music that permeates the film with an energy that is charming. Iglesias won the Cannes Soundtrack Award at this year’s Cannes International Film Festival for his work on “Pain and Glory,” which is fitting given how great the score is. The audio mixing is solid. There are no technical hiccups that would make the film feel amateur.
Almodovar’s direction was solid, but it could have been better. He seemed to focus mostly on Mallo’s childhood and his current life, but nothing in between, which is disappointing since it would have given the film a broader look into a very interesting character. I also questioned why Almodovar focused more on Mallo shooting heroin instead of his work as a director.
Despite the criticisms of “Pain and Glory,” the film is still solid. The acting is some of the best of the year, the score is fantastic and the story is interesting.
There are areas that can be improved such as direction or pacing, but overall, Almodovar provides an engaging film that will have viewers in awe and wanting more.
Final Score: 4/5
Thumbnail photo courtesy of @cinematogrxphy Twitter.
Ian Ward is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org