The Williams Lake Film Club is excited to bring legendary director Pedro Almodóvar’s Oscar-nominated film, Pain and Glory, to the Gibraltar Room on Friday, Feb. 7, 2020.
The film stars Antonio Banderas, in what many critics are saying is his best and most nuanced performance to date as he’s been recognized with a Best Actor win at Cannes and is currently nominated in the category of Best Actor at this year’s Academy Awards. In fact, Pain and Glory marks the eighth time Almodóvar and Banderas have worked together – Almodóvar discovered Banderas back in the 80s in the Spanish National Theatre in Madrid and he launched his leading man film career by casting him in his breakthrough films like Law of Desire (1987) and Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (1988).
Written and directed by Pedro Almodóvar, the film is a sensitive story of remembrance, creation, youth, and aging. Banderas plays the lead role of Salvador Mallo, a gravely depressed and isolated Spanish filmmaker in his early 70s, who is beset with chronic pain and health conditions and is experiencing a creative impasse.
While it is semi-autobiographical and has certain parallels to the director Almodóvar’s own life, the character of Salvador is more of a fictional alter ego. The film is comprised of a series of reconciliations made between Salvador and the important people in his life, interwoven with vivid flashbacks to his rural upbringing and time spent with his mother, played by Penelope Cruz. In a way that is masterful and simplistically elegant, Almodóvar textures the story from present to past, and back again.
We meet current day Salvador as he is about to be recognized for a movie he made more than 30 years before, which has now been restored as a classic and is going to be given a prestigious screening. Salvador is asked to do a Q&A at the screening, along with the film’s star Alberto, but Salvador has been estranged from that actor for years.
Alberto was a heroin addict then, and when Salvador reconnects with him, he learns that he is still addicted. In an effort to find solace and cope with physical pain, Salvador tries the drug himself.
But most importantly, their reunion prompts a chain reaction of events, mostly centred around a manuscript Salvador wrote years ago, about his ill-fated romance with a man by the name of Federico.
Throughout, Banderas brings to his performance a mature grace and vulnerability. In interviews, 59-year-old Antonio Banderas has mentioned that the reason he was able to play a character so fragile was only after experiencing a heart attack himself in 2017.
As he explains, “I think in a way it determined how I’m behaving in my personal life and art…you see death so close to you, it changes something in you. All the important things really rise to the surface. All those things you thought were important, they just vanish, they’re not important anymore. So, Pedro saw that, he saw a change in me, and he says, ‘I don’t know how to describe this, but there’s something different (about you) and I want you to use that in this character. All this reflection and pain and solitude you are bringing is good for the character.’ And I knew exactly what he was talking about so I knew to use it” (quoted in Original CIN).
Director Pedro Almodóvar is known as a legendary filmmaker for many reasons – his excellent screen writing, his narrative complexity, his use of vivid colour, and for bringing out the best in his actors, to name a few – and Pain and Glory proves to be no exception. Along with Banderas’ Best Actor nomination, Pain and Glory is also nominated in the category of Best Foreign Language Film at this year’s Oscars.
As film critic Mick LaSalle writes, “economically and stunningly, Almodóvar combines a high sense of style with a deep sense of humanity, along with a touch of erotic beauty that has always characterized his work. Pain and Glory [is] all about healing rifts and rejoining life, is personal and universal. It’s also simple in a way that’s incandescent – suffused by a strange and beautiful gentleness of spirit.” (San Francisco Chronicle).
Pain and Glory is Rated R for drug use, some graphic nudity and language.
It’s on at the Gibraltar Room in the Cariboo Memorial Recreation Complex on Friday, Feb. 7.
Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the show begins at 7 p.m. Tickets are $12 general admission and $10 for students and seniors (65+). Tickets are purchasable at the door and are on sale now at The Open Book.
Submitted by the Williams Lake Film Club.