Memories ache. They're physical. They start somewhere inside your skull and work their way out to your fingertips and toes, slapping down on every nerve-ending along the way like somebody on roller-skates turning out the lights in an endless building, so many halls. It's a full body sensation, remembrance, and the older you get the more rickety the process -- the shakier and more erratic the flicker of off to on to off to on. Some lights just stay off forever; corridors closed for business.
Pain & Glory is a poem about this elongating process -- built in a deliciously low-key register for the king of fizz Pedro Almodovar, as if he's gently massaging his thoughts out of an elbow, a rib. Slow and thorough, the pieces work themselves out in a uniform march, long enough to look them over, a procession -- a man who drew you once in your white-washed living-room; a sweet thing your momma once said down by the water. Everything worthwhile takes awhile, but the effort's probably worth it when you catch the view, the looks upon their faces.
Muted and gorgeous in his melancholy, Antonio Banderas putters about here in his single greatest performance, clearly keen on holding on, soaking this gift up to the neck-skin. Movies about film-makers are almost always about panic, but Pain & Glory is about letting go -- relaxing, making interiorized amends. That takes smack -- herky-jerky like a rollercoaster's first hill, arms up as far as they'll go, and let go. Once you've ridden it once you'll wanna ride again, no worries -- familiar with the curves, ready to lean into it. You've got the hang then, and only then, can you hum it so the back can hear you -- something plain and sweet as welcome morning sunlight, a song without words that says everything instead.