Film Review: Movie master’s reflective study of ageing film director low on energy in ‘Pain and Glory’

Updated 16 June 2019

Film Review: Movie master’s reflective study of ageing film director low on energy in ‘Pain and Glory’

CANNES: One of the most arresting qualities of movie masters such as Pedro Almodovar and Emir Kusturica is their boundless energy. But lose it, and film fans soon notice something is amiss.

While Serbian legend Kusturica still manages to keep his cinema bubbling with life, Spain’s Almodovar – pushing 70 years old and somewhat bogged down by physical ailments – appears to have taken his foot of the pedal in his latest outing, “Pain and Glory.”

The drama, about a film director reflecting on the choices he has made in life as past and present come crashing down around him, competed for the Cannes Palme d’Or and won best actor award for its hero, Antonio Banderas. The Spanish star is an alter ego of Almodovar himself – much like Indian actor Soumitra Chatterjee was of Satyajit Ray.

“Pain and Glory” is a vaguely disguised autobiography of Almodovar, revealing the anxieties rather than glories of the auteur’s chequered career.

His earlier works, such as “All About My Mother,” “Volver” and “Julieta,” were fantastic studies of Spanish society narrated with unbelievable vigor. Who can forget the opening scene of “Volver” in which dozens of widows, including Penelope Cruz’s character, are seen cleaning their husbands’ graves on a windswept morning?

“Pain and Glory” lacks this dynamism and is mostly ruminative.

Banderas plays film director, Salvador Mallo, a step-down role from his usual dashing screen image. Mallo has not made any movies for years but has enough money to lead a comfortable life surrounded by expensive artefacts.

However, he suffers with depression and worries about his headaches, back pain and a tendency to choke on his food. But a chance meeting with old acting friend Zulema (Cecilia Roth), leads Mallo to get in touch again with film star, Alberto Crespo (Asier Etxeandia), after the two had fallen out during a shoot.

When Crespo introduces Mallo to heroin, he remembers an old script titled “Addiction” and asks Crespo to perform it on stage. In doing so, Mallo opens the curtain on a new life.

In a way, “Pain and Glory” talks about how to come to terms with death, but it is also witty and about lovers and mothers.

Almodovar is such a master craftsman that he does not allow his work to sink into self-indulgence. It is a movie within a movie, and a dream that leads to another.

Most importantly, Almodovar could not have found a better actor than Banderas, who transforms splendidly into Mallo.


Paris Couture Week to go digital in July

Updated 30 May 2020

Paris Couture Week to go digital in July

DUBAI: For the first time ever, the Federation de la Haute Couture et de la Mode said it would stage an online version of Paris Couture Week from July 6 to 8. 

“Each house will be represented in the form of a creative film or video,” the federation stated, adding “Additional content will be included in an editorialized section of the platform. All of this will be widely shared on the main international media networks.” 

It has not yet been confirmed which designers will take part in the new digital concept, but the week typically features design talent from the region, including Lebanese fashion houses Elie Saab, Zuhair Murad and Maison Rabih Kayrouz, among others.

Meanwhile, a few of the fashion houses that have been granted the official haute couture designation have opted out from showing this season.

 Jean Paul Gaultier, who handed over the reins of his couture business to Sacai’s Chitose Abe as the first in a series of rotating guest designers, announced the couture show would be postponed until January. Italian designer Giorgio Armani did the same for his Armani Privé collection, while Balenciaga, which was set to debut its first couture collection in over 50 years, has also postponed.