This has been widely regarded as a quasi-autobiographical work by Pedro Almodovar; it is certainly clear that it is deeply personal to him. There is an intimacy in the script, a warmth and intensity that indicates the director’s deep connection to the story.
Antonio Banderas plays Salvador Mallo, a director who is battling with emotional demons as he reflects upon his life and career. It’s an astounding performance by Banderas and is being touted as an Oscar contender. Asier Etxeandia is Alberto Crespo, an actor with whom Mallo has not spoken for 30 years after disliking his performance in an early film. There’s delightful tension between the two when they’re brought together for a Q&A re-screening of the film. Another Almodovar favourite, Penelope Cruz, plays Mallo’s mother in flashback scenes to his childhood. She too is a powerhouse in this film.
It’s a beautiful narrative with rich visuals and wonderful performances.
Reviewed by Rita Batovich