Banderas shines in Almodóvar's personal "Pain and Glory"

Antonio Banderas appears in a scene from "Pain and Glory."

Writer/director Pedro Almodóvar has said in interviews that his latest film "Pain & Glory" is not exactly autobiographically, but the film does feel very personal.

Anchored by strong work from Antonio Banderas, this is a quiet, reflective piece of work that simmers with emotion.

Banderas plays Salvador Mallo a filmmaker whose career is on the decline. Recent health issues and the death of his mother have left Salvador emotionally broken down, ready to accept that his best days are behind him.

Salvador's life gets a bit of a jolt when one of his best known works enjoys a revival, leading the filmmaker to not only reflect on his career, but his childhood and how his family's move to Madrid shaped his life and career.

"Pain & Glory" is an Almodóvar film full of his signature trademarks - a visual marvel with a colorful palette that illuminates the silver screen in ways that only the director can do.

It's also a film that uses a fractured timeline and the perception of dreams and reality to tell this story - with Penelope Cruz shining as Salvador's mother, who may have been very controlling of her son but only because she wanted a better life for him.

But "Pain & Glory" draws most of its strength from Banderas. It's a role we are unaccustomed to seeing from the 59-year-old sex symbol, one that asks Banderas to scale back and rely more on emotion than charisma. Banderas captures that task quite well, delivering one of the best performances of his career.

He brings Almodóvar's script to life and creates one of the year's most memorable characters - a man struggling with his own mortality. 

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