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Pedro Almodóvar’s elegiac drama boasts a career-best performance from Antonio Banderas as Salvador Mallo, a creatively blocked film director consumed by memories of an impoverished yet idyllic childhood spent with his mother Jacinta (played by Penélope Cruz).
Salvador is a thinly-veiled portrait of Almodóvar, and Pain and Glory is a transparently self-reflexive film which finds the director dwelling upon themes that have resonated throughout his work: motherhood, childhood sexual awakening, loves lost and found, and his life-long love affair with Madrid. Salvador is prompted to reconnect with the estranged star of one of his lauded early films, which has been restored for an anniversary screening, a meeting which proves to be the catalyst for a series of interconnected reveries into his past.
(Notes by David O’Mahony.)
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