And of course, his short film The Human Voice, which I have grown quite fond of, and feels like a perfect companion to Pain and Glory in this sense, lets us into Almodóvar’s own apartment to see how the interior life of his characters is extremely active, even if they seem like they are constantly going through a rough patch. I feel like only a master filmmaker could translate so well the same style over genres and decades while not necessarily changing that many things along the way.
But do you maybe feel like he has lost a bit of his touch with the times? There’s a strong sense of nostalgia and a melancholic undercurrent that’s growing stronger with each new film of his.
AR: Most filmmakers, over a long-enough career, get lost at some point; they become obsessed with the new tech of the day, they repeat their stories to diminishing returns, they lose favor with fans or, simply, they lose potency. I think Almodóvar is as sharp of a storyteller as he ever was. He’s stayed his own course and continued to mine familiar themes and aesthetics without feeling redundant or impotent.
It’s true, he’s become more retrospective—and, consequently, melancholic—but Pain and Glory in 2019 feels as authentic and specific as Pepi, Luci, Bom did in 1980.
I would imagine he’s never made a movie he didn’t want to make, which sounds over-simplified, but his signature is so prominent in every frame of every film he’s touched for the last 40 years that I can’t help but feel as enthusiastic about his films as he does. As you said, his style has largely stayed the same all these years, and he’s obviously fond of bringing back actors time and again. It’s a testament to creative perseverance. It shows that you don’t always have to adapt so much that you lose your voice in the crowd.
As a Spaniard yourself, can you tell me how Pedro Almodóvar is regarded in his home country? Is there a more mainstream appreciation for him, or is he still considered somewhat of a niche artist?