At 70, the great Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar shows he has lost none of his touch, and none of his delight in toying with his audience, with new film, Pain and Glory.
The film’s hero, Salvador Molla, is an ageing Spanish filmmaker, clearly modelled on Almodovar himself – his very name is made up of an anagram of Almodovar.
Much of the action takes place in an apartment which is a replica of Almodovar’s own flat in Madrid, complete with some of the director’s own amazing art collection.
Molla, played with great depth by Antonio Banderas, has achieved great success but has stopped writing because of his crippling back pain. Like Almlodovar, he has migraines and insomnia and lives alone.
The re-release of one of Molla’s early films has triggered a reconnection with its star, Alberto Crespo (Asier Etxeandia), a heroin addict. They had been friends but fell out and had not spoken for 30 years.
Crespo comes to Molla’s flat, where they smoke heroin together, which triggers memories for Molla, back to his childhood, when we see him as a five-year-old (Asier Flores) with his beloved mother, Jacinta (Penelope Cruz).
The film flows back and forth over the decades, with Molla running into Federico (Leonardo Sbaraglia), his first great love, who now lives in Buenos Aires with his wife and family, and recalling his last days with his aged mother (Julieta Serrano), who died four years earlier.
This is a deeply personal film, occasionally hard to follow as it skims through the years, and always tantalisingly vague about how much is truly Aldomovar and how much his alter-ego Molla.
But unlike Molla, who feared that his creative days were fading, Almodovar has demonstrated in Pain and Glory that he is still capable of producing exciting work.
This is Banderas’s eighth film with Almodovar, who launched his career by starring him, aged 22, in his second feature film Labyrinth of Passion, in 1982.
Banderas, 59, left Spain at 30 (barely speaking any English) to find fame and fortune in Hollywood, and since then has made only one other film with Aldomovar – The Skin I Live In (2011).
He won the Best Actor award in Cannes in May for Pain and Glory and is tipped as a potential Oscar nominee.
Pain and Glory will be the opening film for the Lotterywest Perth Film Festival, showing at Somerville Auditorium from Monday, November 25, to Sunday, December 1.
Watch the Trailer…