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May 18, 2019 by · Leave a Comment 

Pedro Almodóvar at Cannes

At the midway mark at the Cannes Film Festival, veteran Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar’s 21st feature film, Pain and Glory, has leapfrogged over the competition among critics polled by the British trade publication Screen International. While all other films screened in competition for the prestigious Palme d’Or have averaged a 2.5 (out of a possible 4.0), Pain and Glory‘s average comes in at 3.4. Although their reviews were not immediately available online, Screen reported that Time magazine’s Stephanie Zacharek and, the L.A. Times‘s Justin Chang were among those giving the film a full four-star rating for this film about an aging director (Almodóvar himself turns 70 in September), played superbly by Antonio Banderas, grappling with the infirmities of old age and the memories — many of them also painful — of a younger age.

Some overseas critics waxed ecstatic in their reviews. Luis Martinez, in Spain’s El Mundo, observed that “it is one of those works to which every great auteur arrives after a lifetime. … The film reaches a level of perfection that is difficult to beat.” In Britain’s Guardian, Peter Bradshaw described it as a “deeply sensual and personal gem” and went on to observe: “Almodóvar operates on a kind of internal combustion engine of creativity and I felt that this movie was running so smoothly and so seductively that it could have gone on for another five hours.”

Jonathan Holland in the Hollywood Reporter, however, was one of a handful of critics who had the very opposite reaction to the film, writing that it is “more about pain than glory [and] sometimes feels a little too much like a couple of hours in the company of your ailing, aged aunt: You feel her pain, but you wish she wouldn’t go on about it so much.” And Timothy Robey in the London Telegraph concluded his review by dismissing the movie as “an uneven dabble in sense memory, with a clever last shot that redeems things slightly – but can’t altogether save it.”