A couple of weeks ago I said I was looking forward Pedro Almodovar‘s Pain and Glory for the second time at the Telluride Film Festival. Because Almodovar’s films are always worth a second look. And who knows — maybe I’ll come away with a greater degree of enthusiasm this time. Antonio Banderas won the Cannes Film festival’s Best Actor prize, after all. Respect must be paid.
Well, I wound up seeing it for the second time last week, and it played a lot stronger. I felt a certain delicacy and poignance from the film that somehow didn’t penetrate as much in Cannes. A richer, sadder, more particular meditation. Especially the scenes with Penelope Cruz, who plays the mother of Antonio Banderas‘ Salvador Mallo character, and Julieta Serrano, who plays a 70something version of Cruz. My Cannes reaction was positive but qualified — respectful but somewhat muted. This was partly due, I think, to being exhausted by the 16-hour days. I was rested and ready when I saw it four or five days ago, and it made all the difference.
Fatigue gets in the way of a lot of things, if you’re not careful.
Posted from Cannes on 5.18.19: “A meditation about decline, disease, looming death, drugs, old lovers, creative blockage and memories of childhood, Pain and Glory left me with feelings of respect and appreciation more than any sense of excitement or bracing discovery. It all unfolds in a settled, confident way but in a distinctly minor key.
“I’ve worshipped Almodovar all my adult moviegoing life. With the exception of I’m So Excited, his films have always made me smile and swoon. This one felt a little more recessive than most. Settled, reflective, gray-haired, a little morose at times. I can’t say I was turned on, but I felt sated and assured as far as it went.
“It’s a film about getting older and dealing with physical maladies and to a lesser extent creative blockage. An old boyfriend, copping street heroin, a third-act discussions with his late mom (Penelope Cruz), memories of her washing clothes in the river…all of it swirling around in Banderas’s mind. I liked Pain and Glory well enough. It was certainly time well spent. I just wasn’t knocked out.”