“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.
Antonio Banderas played a key role in Almodovar’s films from the helmer’s second feature, “Labyrinth of Passion” (1982) to 1989’s “Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!,” before settle in Hollywood. Twenty-one years after, they met again for “The Skin I Live In.”
After her acclaimed role in 1999’s “All About My Mother,” Penélope Cruz toplined “Volver,” reckoned one of the best films Almodóvar has ever directed.
Having previously worked in “Pepi, Luci, Bom,” “Dark Habits,” “Women On The Verge Of A Nervous Breakdown” and “Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!,” vet actress Julieta Serrano is joining again to an Almodovar project almost three decades later.
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.