When Louise proposed that we went to see the latest Almodovar, my immediate thoughts turned to La Piel Que Habito, which I saw some years ago. I was so disturbed by the simply grotesque plot that I expected something of equal horror here. Sadly, this is due in fact to my own ignorance of the great scope of Almodovar’s work. As with the aforementioned film, Almodovar manages to take a subject close to heartbreaking and make something beautiful and important out of it.

Banderas, winner of the Best Actor award at Cannes, is immense but tiny. His performance is world-weary and downcast, trying to reconcile himself with his past while not having the strength to deal with the present. It’s an actor opening himself up to share doubts and expose frailties without a hint of showboating. Empire

Dolor y Gloria (Pain and Glory) follows the story of a director, Salvador, being forced to reconcile himself with his past when asked to do a retrospective of his 1980s hit, Sabor. This brings him face to face with his estranged lead actor, Alberto Crespo (Etxeandia). Through a whirlwind romance with heroin, episodes from Salvador’s youth give us a wonderfully clear and shocking picture of the director’s life. The tale of love and loss, of struggle against sexuality and parental expectation is told with extraordinary tenderness.

He has been autobiographical before — Law Of DesireBad Education — but never so open-heartedly. Just as Salvador is a filmmaker jaded by life and cinema, Almodovar is the opposite. Pain & Glory beautifully negotiates the past and present to land in a personal place the filmmaker has never been before. Long may he stay there. Empire

One of the most striking aspects of this film for me was the use of colours. Red is the most prominent, featuring on jackets, chairs, doors and in paintings throughout the scenes in the film. Importantly perhaps was the absurdly bright doctor’s lounge. Almodovar has enormous control over his colour palette which translates very well in the film.

I’m not terribly well versed in film reviews, I find in the necessity to hide the main plot points but give a full account of the salient points and reasonings for one needing to see the film quite daunting. Nonetheless, I am more well versed in ignoring people’s opinions, so I’ll just carry on.

For me, the standout moment was just before one of Crespo’s performances. He is wearing a beautiful silk shirt and is dancing to the opening bars of Grace Jones’ La Vie en Rose, the first song from her first album. It’s only for a few seconds but it affected me greatly. Grace Jones is a great inspiration of mine. The song talks about falling in love and seeing life through rose tinted glasses as a result. I’ve never been addicted to heroin, but I imagine this is the impression Almodovar was trying to convey in tandem with being addicted to love in the context of the play within the film.

Dolor y Gloria is possibly the best film I have seen this year. It is a wonderfully moving pseudo-biographical work which says something important about pain and growth. I recommend this to you whole heartedly.