Almodovar returns to the festival for the seventh time with "Dolor y gloria"

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A story of going and of returns, of discoveries and changes, of lost and rediscovered loves, of wounds that leave their mark and of a present that, inevitably, has lost the hopes of youth to concentrate on the anxieties of maturity. At the threshold of 70 years Pedro Almodovar returns to the Festival, for the seventh time, with Dolor y gloria (from tomorrow in the halls), a twilight fresco on the existence of a director who resembles him a lot, but not entirely, and on a nation, Spain, which has changed along with him: «There has always been a correspondence between the my life and that of the country in which I live, it is natural that, in my films, the influence of the air I breathe has been felt. Two weeks ago, fortunately, the atmosphere has changed, in a direction that I completely approve of. The loneliness, the isolation that I tell in this film reflects, instead, the gloomy climate of a pre-election Spain, now I believe, and I hope, that a new era has begun and therefore I can say that my next film will be very cheerful ».

Actress Elle Fanning, who is part of the jury, yesterday on the red carpet

To animate the mirror game of Dolor Y Gloria, Almodovar needed a reliable alter-ego, an actor, Antonio Banderas, born with him and returned by him, ready to be shaped without resistance, with the dedication of those who, after abandoning their roots and building a career Hollywood, as an actor, as a director and also as a man, he understood that it was time to make the reverse journey: "I chose to shoot the film as a simple soldier – says Banderas -, accepting any suggestion, knowing that never like this time Pedro would have told himself in depth. I had to be his instrument, I told him I was there to listen and to try to understand what he really wanted from me. I got rid of everything, he wanted me to undress, and so it was ».

In the fabric of the film, between situations experienced and imagined, experienced in first person or reworked according to the stories of friends, there is the Almodovar universe observed from the most intimate perspective, with the desire not to hide anything, but also, he says the author, without regrets or remorse: "I have certainly made mistakes, and I think it is important to know it, so as not to repeat them, but I do not regret it, because repentance and the repercussion of conscience are for me feelings related to religion, to a ideology based on guilt and punishment, which does not belong to me. In life he saved my cinema ». In Banderas, the friend with whom, in the eighties, went out every night, enjoying the effervescent atmosphere of the Madrid nightlife, Almodovar asked to "be totally different from then". Time passes, and nothing can be done about it. That may be why, on the windy terrace of the Croisette, Banderas recalls with his eyes turned away, as if trying to capture the spirit of an unrepeatable era: "When Pedro and I met we were inexperienced, but also very pure, we were trying to re-invent Spanish cinema, but, above all, to overturn the moral rules of a society that, until a few years before, had been led by a harsh dictatorship. We went everywhere, always together, to the theater, to dinner, to dance, to the cinema. We were a group, like the Rolling Stones, it was a lot of fun. Then Pedro was successful, he became important and he acquired power, our roads split, I went to America, and, for almost 22 years, we never saw each other again. "

The first work together, after the separation, was The skin I live: "When we met again – explains Banderas – I wanted to show what I had become, my goals. Pedro told me right away that those things didn't interest him at all, that they were nonsense, and that he wanted the real Antonio. Of course I reacted, we discussed and struggled. I only understood later, seeing myself in the film, at the Toronto Festival. Then I realized that Pedro had managed to get me out of things I didn't know I had. "

Of these revelations, the misunderstandings, the comings and goings that often mark the bonds of our lives, speaks the whole Almodovar film. Not only pain and glory, but also tolerance and, at times, pacification. Feelings that the director traces with "new sobriety, less humor, and less taste of the Baroque". Age required a change and, according to the success of the film at home, the public finally understood that Pedro Almodovar is a great director, capable of changing: "For years, after Women on the verge of a nervous breakdown people stopped me on the street asking me to do another film like that. Today, however, I am happy, I have the impression that my change, being different, more vulnerable, in harmony with my biological evolution, has been received by the spectators. I am more fragile, this creates empathy, and everything has happened naturally, without calculations, nor forcing ".

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