Movie Guide

  • 2019-10-29

Pain and Glory / Dolor y Gloria (2019) – in cinemas from Friday, November 08

Pedro Almodóvar has found a more intensely personal register than ever for his tender new movie about an ageing film director in retreat from his profession, facing ill health, depression and the decline of his powers. Pain and Glory is an autumnal film in a ruminative minor key, with more pain than glory – although glory does make a late resurgence. It brings Almodóvar’s focus to death: his own and those of the people he loves, but also to the passion of film-making which may yet conquer death, or provide a way of coming to terms with it.

It’s one more example here of Almodóvar’s ability to take pairs – not just people, but concepts (like, say, present and past, or pain and glory) – and happily join them.

Pain and Glory tells of a series of reencounters experienced by Salvador Mallo (Antonio Banderas), a film director in his physical decline. Some of them in the flesh, others remembered: his childhood in the 60s, when he emigrated with his parents to a village in Valencia in search of prosperity, the first desire, his first adult love in the Madrid of the 80s, the pain of the breakup of that love while it was still alive and intense, writing as the only therapy to forget the unforgettable, the early discovery of cinema, and the void, the infinite void that creates the incapacity to keep on making films. 

Pain and Glory talks about creation, about the difficulty of separating it from one’s own life and about the passions that give it meaning and hope. In recovering his past, Salvador finds the urgent need to recount it, and in that need he also finds his salvation.

Almodóvar captures the intimate feeling of having your wounds and memories repaired by time. Despite its sometimes-grim subject matter, Pain and Glory has plenty of Almodóvar’s playful humor and love of the absurd.

More info on this movie can be found at