Pedro Almodovar, Antonio Banderas, Penelope Cruz Team Up on ‘Dolor y Gloria’Variety
“Dolor y Gloria” is set up at El Deseo, the Madrid-based production house created by Almodovar and his brother Agustín to produce “The Law of Desire” in 1987.
Described by Almodovar as a film with male protagonists – in contrast to his last outing, “Julieta” – “Dolor y Gloria” (literally “Pain and Glory”) stars Banderas and Asier Etxeandía (“Velvet”) in the leading roles. Cruz and Julieta Serrano – “two actresses I adore,” Almodovar said Tuesday in a press statement – will play secondary roles.
“Dolor y Gloria” turns on “creation, both cinematographic and theatrical, and the difficulty of separating creation from one’s own life,” Almodovar said.
The film recounts “a series of meetings, some physical, others remembered decades later, of a film director now in his twilight years,” Almodovar said. It will encompass “the first loves, the second loves, the mother, mortality, an actor with whom the director worked, the ’60s, the ’80s, current times, and the emptiness, a sense of incommensurate emptiness, caused by the inability to go on making films.”
The description will inevitably spark questions as to how much of the film is inspired by his own life and if, in any way, the film could mark the 68-year-old Almodovar’s goodbye to filmmaking. “Dolor y Gloria” will be his 21st feature in a career stretching back to the 1970s.
Banderas played a key part in Almodovar’s early career, sometimes in the role of buff but traumatized or psychopathic male leads, appearing in films such as “Labyrinth of Passion” (1982) and “Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!” (1989) before relocating to Hollywood. Twenty-one years later, he re-teamed with Almodovar as a vengeful surgeon in “The Skin I Live In.”
After her acclaimed supporting role in 1999’s “All About My Mother,” Cruz toplined “Volver,” reckoned one of the best films in the Almodovar canon. Serrano, who previously worked in “Pepi, Luci, Bom,” Almodovar’s punk-pop movida-inspired feature debut, took co-lead roles in “Dark Habits,” “Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown” and “Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!”
Almodovar may not be bowing out, just regrouping. Like “Julieta,” “Dolor y Gloria” looks on paper like the result of a desire not only to return to his roots, a practice he began way back with “The Flower of My Secret,” but to portray the evolution of a life somewhat close to his own from the freshness and promise of youth onwards.