Two longtime collaborators reunite for a story of grappling with the repercussions of the choices made in service of art.
The story being told in Pain & Glory, the new film from writer/director Pedro Almodóvar, is that of the aging artist taking stock of his life and grappling with his legacy. Antonio Banderas plays Salvador Mallo, a thinly-veiled stand in for Almodóvar himself.
Through a series of circumstances Mallo is prompted to consider what his life has amounted to, revisiting moments from his past that have brought him great pleasure, love and beauty. How all of that has influenced his art and life are all brought into focus in sometimes wonderful and sometimes painful ways.
With a 96 percent “Fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes, the movie has been a hit with critics. Sony Classics’ campaign seeks to bring that buzz to the general audience.
How the individual pictures of various settings and characters are scattered around the title treatment on the poster is actually quite perfect given the subject matter. These are literally fragments of people and memories going through Mallo’s mind. It’s unclear if this is the idea the designers were going for since it’s also similar to any number of independent dramas that marketing teams have struggled to find a theme or brand for, but it works on that level.
The first trailer (82,000 views on YouTube) was finally released in early August. We’re shown a portrait of a filmmaker who is struggling to find his footing in the present at the same time he’s trying to reconcile that present with the past. There are hints of storylines involving the price of notoriety, parental rebuke and much more, all accompanied by Almodóvar’s gentle but striking visuals.
Online and Social
Sony Classics’ website for the film is a throwback to the kind of fully-featured sites that used to be commonplace. Not only is there the trailer, a gallery and other marketing materials but there’s an in-depth exploration of the film, its story and full cast/crew bios, but there’s also a wonderful “About” section that explores the themes Almodóvar has covered and where this movie fits into his filmography as a whole.
Advertising and Promotions
Almodóvar and Banderas brought the movie to the Cannes Film Festival, speaking about the story and the future of film as a whole while there. Its appearance there generated a good amount of positive chatter and set off some Oscar buzz for the cast and crew. It was later announced among the films screening at the Toronto Film Festival, which included a conversation with Banderas.
The first clip, released in early September, shows Mallo having an uncomfortable (for him) conversation with an ex-lover about their current situations.
It was announced at about that same time the movie would act as Spain’s official entry for this year’s Academy Awards.
A screening at the New York Film Festival included a conversation with Almodóvar.
Media and Press
Banderas was interviewed while there about working with his friend Almodóvar, a situation with the potential to get very tricky given his character is a vague version of the director himself.
That same scene released in September was one, according to Banderas, that was too emotional for the director to be on set for. The actor also reminisced about his long history of working with Almodóvar and the sometimes controversial and unpopular choices he’s made in his career. He also talked about how his own recent health issues were mined by the director to reinforce where the character he plays is at and what he’s dealing with.
The movie is, objectively, a bit niche for mainstream audiences. The critics and cinephiles who have seen it at festivals or who will seek it out in its limited engagements are the perfect target group for the film given its subject matter and pedigree.
That the campaign doesn’t shy away from any of the themes or details of the story is to Sony Classics’ credit and a sign the studio understands who is going to be interested in seeing it. There’s no other way to position a movie that reunites Almodóvar and Banderas in yet another deeply personal project, so the marketing works in being, based on what’s seen here, true to what it’s selling.