Pain and Glory Movie Explained: What’s Up With the Ending?

Pros: Antonio Banderas and Penelope Cruz; interesting presentation of an autobiography that blurs the line between fact and fiction Cons: the movie is not difficult to perceive, but specific “Pain and Glory” / Dolor y gloria

Drama genre
Directed by Pedro Almodóvar
Cast: Antonio Banderas (Salvador), Penelope Cruz (Jacinta), Leonardo Sbaraglia (Federico), Asier Echeandia (Alberto), Cecilia Roth (Zulema), Nora Navas (Mercedes), Raul Arevalo (father), Julieta Serrano (aged Jacinta) ) and etc.
Companies Canal+, Ciné+, El Deseo
Year of release 2019
IMDB page

Being one of the most famous Spanish directors of our time, Pedro Almodóvar is remembered for his special aesthetics of framing, a certain provocation and the habit of filming the same actors. The drama “Pain and Glory” also has all this. But the most interesting thing is still different – that the film became a non-standard autobiography of Almodóvar.

Usually, films about the lives of outstanding people are shot by someone else. This rule applies to anyone other than Pedro Almodóvar. He personally decided to sum up his 40-year film career by presenting to audiences a film about an aging director reflecting on the past and trying to come to terms with the present. Judging by his interview, the script for the film “Pain and Glory” contains many frank confessions from his life. They are mixed with fictitious facts and situations. So even in the genre of autobiography, Pedro played everything out in his own way.

Pedro Almodóvar’s on-screen personality is portrayed by a character named Salvador (played by Antonio Banderas). Salvador suffers from chronic pain and panic attacks. Health prevents him from continuing to realize himself in film directing, but his bright past still reminds of itself. The hero remembers his childhood, his first interests and the company of his mother (performed by Penelope Cruz, as well as Julieta Serrano). At the same time, the film reveals Salvador’s love story in an unusual way – it sounds in the format of a theatrical production.


All this may seem somewhat confusing, but in fact the plot of the film “Pain and Glory” is quite simple. The most important line in it is the one with memories of the director’s adolescence, which happened to be in the 60s. The film pays great attention to the peculiarities of life led by the main character’s mother. Her young version is played by Penélope Cruz (who is working with Pedro Almodóvar for the sixth time), giving her character the everyday fussiness of a parent.

Antonio Banderas (who made his debut in Pedro Almodovar’s Labyrinth of Passions and has been collaborating with the director ever since) shows exhaustion, but at the same time plays without the slightest strain. While portraying his character as high, Banderas still remains calm and doesn’t give away anything that could be associated with his other works. It is quite logical that in Cannes the actor was awarded the award for Best Actor.


What’s successful at film festivals doesn’t always do well at the box office. Such a fate may well befall the drama “Pain and Glory.” Some will find it too frank (the story demonstrates the protagonist’s attraction to a man), others will find the story oversaturated with pain (we are talking about the character’s diagnoses). But that’s the whole point of Pedro Almodóvar. He shoots the way he wants and does it beautifully.

In addition, Pedro Almodóvar adds to the film the subtle humor inherent in European films. And he removes the boredom that might appear during viewing with background music, which gives an unobtrusive pace to the film. All this, together with the non-standard presentation of the protagonist’s flashbacks, is perceived much easier than expected.


The film “Pain and Glory” is interesting because the director personally tells his story, using famous actors. This painting contains references to his previous works.

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