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Pain and Glory


Stars: Antonio Banderas, Asier Flores, Penelope Cruz, Nora Navas, Leonardo Sbaraglia, Asier Etxeandia, Susi Sanchez, Julieta Serrano, Cesar Vicente

Director: Pedro Almodovar

Cult Spanish director Almodovar's semi-autobiographical piece centres on an intuitive and unusually sensitive performance from Banderas as a gay filmmaker, Salvador Mallo, who has run out of inspiration, hasn't made a movie in years and suffers from everything from arthritis to (predictably) depression, with back pains and choking fits thrown in.

He's the despair of uncaring agent Mercedes (Navas) and the epitome of a line read during the film when we're told that 'he was the loneliest man Death had ever seen'.

Two blasts from the past bring him back to some semblance of life, as he re-encounters the actor (Etxeandia) who starred in his first great success, igniting memories of a fierce feud over the interpretation of a role, and his long-time love Alberto (Sbaraglia), who is now married (to a woman) and with two sons.

Most of the film, however, is occupied with Salvador's childhood as a 10-year-old (Flores), living in a stuccoed 'cave' with his indomitable mother (Cruz) and experiencing his first attraction to a man when passing out at the sight of his parents' painter (Vicente) in the nude.

Banderas holds centre stage with easy grace in this well-made picture, keeping a kindly grip on our interest throughout.

David Quinlan

Spain 2018. UK Distributor: 20th Century Fox. Colour by Cinetel.
113 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 2, Swearing 1.

Review date: 21 Aug 2019