More views of - or before - Cambridge Film Festival 2019 (17 to 24 October)
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Early on, Pedro Almodóvar's Pain and Glory (Dolor y gloria) (2019) might have resembled a (not unwelcome) re-make of Broken Embraces (2009), in more accessible form - with elements of 8½ (1963) and others of his films such as, most obviously, Bad Education (La mala educación) (2004), thrown in for good measure :
However, Pain and Glory outgrows both those references and, not alone, a sly wink at Cinema Paradiso (1988) to bed in, and then engagingly transcend Almodóvar's usual pre-occupations of betrayal, gay love, happenstance, and the physical body.
Indulged, without the ostensible - if not actual - charm of Fellini's Guido Anselmi, Salva(tor)** (Antonio Banderas) has been given the medical history (which he relates / narrates himself), if not necessarily of a hypochondriac, then, it is soon suggested to us, of someone who has neglected self and others. Yet he does not, or will not, attribute fault for his ills except to them : in some measure, although the picture is exaggerated for effect, we should all be able to see where guilt has similarly held us back, and may even have become expressed in body and / or mind.
Salva is thus writ large so that we cannot but see both his condition, and how Almodóvar fleshes out its origins for the character at the same time as for us : as Fellini does, with Guido - or, equally, in Allen's tribute to the film, with Sandy Bates (Allen himself) in Stardust Memories (1980) ? Though perhaps, but without Sorrentino's bitter-sweet poignancy, there is actually a closer resemblance to his Jep Gambardella (Toni Servillo***) and what - and how - he discovers.
* The title of a book by Cyril Connolly, which reminisces and reflects on British public schools, amongst other things.
** Maybe wrongly, but one reads an irony into those called 'Saviour' in films, e.g. in Rosi's Salvatore Giuliano (1962).
*** Another 'Anthony', and St Anthony (presumably of Alexandria, not Padua - unless Salva is what / who 'is lost'?) indeed has a cameo in Dolor y gloria.
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Unless stated otherwise, all films reviewed were screened at Festival Central (Arts Picturehouse, Cambridge)