Friday, June 5, 2020

Why Watch Foreign Films? Pain and Glory

Pain and Glory, d. Pedro Almodovar, 2019.

This felt a lot like a modern-day Fellini film. Everything looked very beautiful, the moments of pain and light-heartedness went hand in hand, and every scene shouted art. I often wonder what items or experiences other people have from their childhood or coming-of-age years that they look back on and enjoy remembering; this film is a lovely reminder that we should do that, if we can.

Salvador Mallo (Antonio Banderas) is a gifted film director with several health issues that have kept him from exploring new work or interacting with the public. When one of his popular films gets remastered, he agrees to meet with the film's lead, Alberto Crespo (Asier Etxeandia), who he'd shunned for years after a falling out over the actor's heroin use. The two men connect over the exact act Mallo had judged Crespo for decades earlier (which Crespo calls, "chasing the dragon"), and under influence of the drug, Mallo begins a sort of retrospective review of his life and work. He not only begins writing again, but through Crespo's stage performance of his autobiographical essay, Mallo reunites with the love of his life, who inspires him even more. While many of his physical pains persist, Mallo continues his work honoring the people and experiences that shaped him as an artist.

The technical and thematic elements present in this film are equal parts skillful aesthetic and sentimentality. The colors, the landscapes, the interactions between characters, and even the graphics used early on in the film are all engaging and beautiful. The nostalgia and heartbreak shown in the film is best seen and not so much spoken of; this is such a writer's film, one that those of us who spend time wrapped up in our thoughts, reactions, and longing for past experiences will easily recognize. It was truly lovely to behold.

Pain and Glory is rated R for nudity and drug use and runs 1 hour 53 minutes. I got this as a recommendation via Twitter (thanks, LOSTie Laura!) and got the film itself through Netflix disk.