Salvador Mallo (Antonio Banderas) is an older man who discusses his life as a director, a young boy (Asier Flores) living with his mother Jacinta (Penelope Cruz) and his father Venancio (Raul Arevalo) in a home that resembles a cave, also the trials and tribulations with Alberto Crespo (Asier Etxeandia) a business partner and tarnished friend, his mother Jacinta in her older years (Julieta Serrano) and with the love he once had but hadn’t seen in 32 years, Frederico Delgado (Leonardo Sbaraglia).
Salvador is suffering from many bodily ailments as well as from depression and thankfully he has a dear friend Mercedes (Nora Navas) who cares for him in his time of need. His friend Alberto is into heroin and has introduced it into Salvador’s life which he accepts to ease his pains. In his childhood his mother wanted to send him to the seminary to work with priests in order to get a higher education but the young boy wanted no part of the priests! While living in his cave-like home he meets Eduardo (Cesar Vicente) who is in need of learning and at this time Salvador was proficient in reading and writing and in exchange for him teaching Eduardo he would fix up Jacinta’s kitchen since Eduardo is a builder. But one afternoon when Salvador was alone with Eduardo he not only got an eyeful of Eduardo bathing but also passed out as well. Not from the sight a naked attractive man but from the sun.
Alberto had read a new play idea from Salvador named Addiction and he wanted to play the lead but memories of the past have played on both men. Salvador lived in a nice home filled with many expensive paintings but money could not buy his happiness even when a love from his past seeks him out Salvador does the right thing. Or does he? In the end, throughout years of love, grief, death, religion, regret, getting old, sexuality and so much more we the audience gets to relate to this boy turned man and the trials and tribulations of life.
Even though the language in the film is Spanish the subtitles of course help but I find that sometimes it distracts from what is happening with the characters on the screen. Yet I must say in many ways I related to this story in several ways which I think others will as well. It not only deals with the life of one man but also the many people that were and are part of his life. Nicely directed and written I absolutely enjoyed this story for the personal journey it takes you on for two hours. At the end you will be surprised in the truth of the story.
Banderas is superb and carries this story of his life very well. Etxeandia is a great support but the moments on the screen during the play were riveting. Flores is perfection as the young Salvador as is Cruz who plays his mother. There is full nudity and nothing to be ashamed by what so ever by Vicente. As for the rest of the cast it is very nicely chosen and they all give a piece of themselves into this well done Spanish language film.