I was so involved with who was playing who that the first 15 minutes of the movie is a blur to me! Was Antonio Banderas supposed to be Pedro Almodovar? Is Asia Exteandia supposed to be Banderas? Who the hell is Leonardo Sbaraglia who could easily pass for Banderas? Was there truly a Cesar Vicente in Almodovar's early pre-pubescent? Then I forgot all that and just got into the movie's screenplay by Almodovar and the superb acting by the cast, especially Antonio Banderas!
I have been a huge fan of Pedro Almodovar since 1983 when I saw his "Dark Habits" and have seen about 15 of the 20 movies he has directed. This, without a doubt, is one of his best if for nothing else the writing and direction of a scene between Banderas and Julieta Mallo though this is just one of many scenes that grab and hold your attention. I defy you to take your eyes off the screen in the scene between Asier Flores, playing the young Salvador Mallo, and Cesar Vicente, a laborer with artistic abilities, that provides another scene with the older Salvador, played by Banderas, bringing back the past.
Many of Almodovar's films have featured and/or revolved around beautiful women with one being Penelope Cruz who in this film plays the young mother of Salvador but in this one it revolves around 4 beautiful men, including Banderas who grows better looking every day he grows older!
Talking about Antonio Banderas, there is no doubt in my mind he gives one of the best performances, not only of his career but, of this year. There are so many facets to this story of an old(er) man and his journey to where and who he is today and the actor deliveries in every scene. Whether in flashbacks or current day we follow him every step of the way and the complex life he has lead.
"Pain and Glory" is in many ways a perfect film but not an easy one to watch as there is a lot of pain and a little glory.
PS If for no other reason I will have to see it again and find out what I missed those first 15 minutes!