Pedro Almodovar just carries on getting better and better, and this latest, even by his own high standards, is quite exceptional.
As a retrospect on a section of his own life, he's played here by Antonio Banderas (right) as disarmingly vulnerable, both physically (constant pain from bad spine alignment as well as problems swallowing with risk of fatally choking) and mental - living an aimless life as a one-time highly successful film director, now in a limbo unable to recover his former powers and dependent on cocaine as well as his prescribed pain killers.
A surprise local screening of his most successful film made 32 years previously with his former lover (Asier Etxandia - left in above still) in the lead, is the spur to his re-establishing contact, their having not spoken since that film after a big fall-out. He wants his former partner to accompany him to the screening, their meeting causing him to be introduced to the drug which is going to play an essential part in his future life which he increasingly needs to function as well as dulling the constant pain to which he's subject.
A minor quibble I have is that if his former lover acted in his film 32 years prior, that would mean that he must be now at the very least 50 years old, more likely nearer 60, and Etxandia looks nothing like that age while Banderas himself does have convincing resemblance to a man of those years. But this is not serious enough to derail my overall high opinion of the film.
There are also frequent substantial flashbacks to his life as a boy living with his mother (Penelope Cruz).
It's mostly quite a gentle film with few (and there are a few) moments of confrontation, though the general tenor is of an easy-going amble, health problems notwithstanding.
Being Almodovar, colours are vivid,. sometimes blazing.
I think the film would be most appreciated by those who are already fans of the director, otherwise I think there's a possibility that anyone who's not familiar with his works might be wondering what all the fuss is about. If you qualify as one of his 'disciples' I have no hesitation in saying that you must see this, in which both Almodovar himself and Banderas have simply never been better.
Definitely one of my 'Films of the Year' with ease. Perhaps it'll turn out to be my favourite of all 2019...............8.
(IMDb........................7.8 / Rott.Toms(critics only).................94% )
5 hours ago