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  • Writer's pictureS.J.

Quick Reviews: 'Pain And Glory', 'Yesterday' | Pedro Almodóvar, Antonio Banderas, Himesh Patel

Antonio Banderas looking down, Lily James and Himesh Patel singing
Pain And Glory (L), Yesterday (R)


There’s always a fear in the back of your head when you hear a movie is about a filmmaker and fears will grow when it has reflections on the filmmaker making the said film. Pedro Almodóvar’s Pain And Glory (Dolor y Gloria in Spanish) therefore had a big obstacle to get over so it wouldn’t feel like a sappy, self-important tale of a relatively successful and lucky man. The first quarter wasn’t easing my mind with its focus on the work itself but after that, it does start to evolve. This is a piece that gets better and better as it goes on with an incredibly satisfying end to wrap it all up.

We might do an anomaly here and begin by talking about the ending. Even before the last fifteen-ish minutes the movie had won me over to the positive side but the way the last shots both mirror the beginning and lead us viewers to a new part of the character’s, Salvador Mallo (played by Antonio Banderas), life is something remarkable. You’d be happy if a film sticks its landing but when it is the high point, you’re ever so grateful. Banderas delivers his performance in every way possible, he never feels to be doing an imitation but instead the energy invites you into Salvador’s home.

That home, oh yes. It’s just one of the parts of the film that has something eye-catching because the whole art side is beautiful and essential for the story that is unravelling. Innocent shades of white in the childhood, passionate red of cinema and love as well as cold blue of addiction and physical pain are presented gorgeously in everything that ends up in the frames. Pain And Glory is also rare in the sense that flashbacks are used in a fairly inventive way to tell a story, often movies do it to over-expose but here it is to add contrast. Something that contrasts the greatness of the film is the supporting cast which has some weird line-reading moments and apparent lack of ”it” next to Banderas.

Smileys: Ending, set decoration, Antonio Banderas, editing

Frowneys: Casting

I was ready for pain but ended up getting some glorious sunshine.


Antonio Banderas next to a painting
Sony Pictures Classics


Fun premises always raise the level of expectations for a film so director Danny Boyle's Yesterday certainly had a hill to climb right from the get go. This one slipped through the cracks for me last year in the middle of all the summer blockbusters and also since I’m not the biggest Beatles fanatic *audible gasp*. However when thinking about releases that I should visit later on, it still maintained my curiosity. The movie starts out solid as it wisely doesn’t push too many hits right away down our throats (reason might be the high sync costs) but slowly it has a realisation that there really isn’t a proper character arc.

Yesterday’s beginning very much is the strongest part which is thanks to the really great base idea for a film where this iconic songwriting is suddenly wiped out from the planet but only one remembers it. We get introduced to indie musician Jack Malik (played by Himesh Patel) and learn about his close circle. He has music in his heart but not necessarily the x-factor to write a hit. Performing with just an electric guitar is a bit awkward to watch so the movie picks up the pace when he starts playing tunes from The Beatles, all of those songs are used very effectively from the start to the end.

Jack’s arc along with his friend/manager/love interest Ellie’s (Lily James) is rather disappointing taking in the fact that with songwriting and artistry, there’s so much to pull from. The rom-com aspect doesn’t ever quite work, actors’ chemistry isn’t there and neither is the dialogue which gets sappy real fast. During Jack’s short journey as a pop rock star, he gets involved with Ed Sheeran. Sheeran plays a weird version of himself instead of, you know, being himself and his line delivery isn’t natural at all. He is one of the many music industry cliches that pop their heads in, everyone in the music business seems like an outline and not like a person.

Smileys: Premise, soundtrack

Frowneys: Characterisation, Ed Sheeran, dialogue

Some funny moments, some half-cooked melodies.


Lily James and Himesh Patel singing
Universal Pictures

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