Thursday October 13, 2016·
It’s a happy day when there’s a new Pedro Almodóvar film to bathe in, and Julieta is one of his finest yet – a story of emotional guilt, familial secrets, perfect '70s stylings, and the sea.
Though based on a number of stories from Alice Munro’s shorts collection Runaway, Julieta feels all Almodóvar, rich with melodrama and an alluring, slowly paced subtlety under all those busy visuals. We first meet the titular Julieta (Emma Suárez) as an elegant, middle-aged woman, packing her belongings to move with her partner to Portugal. As with all of Almodóvar’s female characters, Julieta is a complex being – an air of potent mystery written across her face, and doled out in furtive sentences.
A chance encounter on the street with a friend of her estranged daughter Antía shifts Julieta’s mood and mind. She’s suddenly compelled to stay in Madrid, leave her partner, and takes a new apartment already rich with her own history. There, amid her well-worn books and hefty looking phallic sculptures, she begins to finally address Antía, in the form of a letter. Time flips, and a younger Julieta is now played by Adriana Ugarte. She’s a classical literature teacher/goddess with platforms and geometric earrings to die for.
As we see her move through memories, it’s clear that Julieta’s life is irrevocably tied to the epic Greek myths she lectures on, as her story ebbs and flows like the sea that literally fills one of her horizons. It’s a beautiful film, with exquisite performances, and ridiculously good production design. Exactly what you hope for when you settle in for an Almodóvar film, and it's certainly not by chance here that he hits a bullseye.