Toronto 2019: Pain and Glory

Antonio Banderas as Salvador in Pain and Glory. Photo by Manolo Pavón. Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics.

Antonio Banderas delivers a stand-out performance as filmmaker Salvador Mallo in Pain and Glory as the film hits up the fall film festivals.

A winner of Best Actor at Cannes, Pain and Glory hits both Telluride and Toronto on its way to a theatrical release in October.  Pedro Almodóvar turns in a bold script here.  Put it this way–hours after watching the film, I still struggled with what to say about it.  On the one hand, the film feels like it’s autobiographical at times.  After all, it is about a filmmaker!

We see Salvador (Antonio Banderas as an adult) in various stages of his life.  He was a very smart child even though he became a soloist in the choir and didn’t really have to take classes.  He would go about learning geography during his filmmaking career as a result.

What really gets things going is when the cinema wants to put on a retrospective screening of Sabor as a part of its Madrid series.  The main problem with this is that neither Salvador nor star Alberto Crespo (Asier Exteandía) have talked to each other in ages.  Alberto, a drug addict, didn’t perform the part as written. While Salvador didn’t exactly hold a grudge, they didn’t part on good terms.

There’s a segment here involving Alberto, Federico (Leonardo Sbaraglia) and Salvador.  Not only is it well-acted but every aspect of filmmaking works out in its favor.  This particular segment revolves around a monologue titled The Addiction.  Federico, who knew Antonio from an earlier time in Madrid, recognized himself almost immediately.

CAST:  Antonio Banderas, Asier Exteandía, Leonardo Sbaraglia, Nora Navas, Julieta Serrano, and Penélope Cruz

Pain and Glory holds its Canadian premiere during the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival in the Special Presentations program. Sony Classics will open the film on October 4, 2019. Grade: 4/5

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.