If you love Almodóvar’s films this one will be less explicit and twisted than others, but, nevertheless, a wonderful melodramatic oeuvre d’art that explores the complex lives of ordinary people.
The film is based on three short stories from Alice Munro’s book Runaway (2004). Julieta was nominated for the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival and recently has been selected to compete in the Best Foreign Language Film at the 89th Academy Awards.
The story is told in two-fold, represented by young (Adriana Ugarte) and old Julieta (Emma Suárez). Julieta is on the point of moving to Portugal to start a new chapter of her life with Lorenzo (Darío Grandinetti). However, one day, she meets a childhood friend of her daughter and everything changes. Julieta seems to fall back into her ‘addiction’ and becomes – once more – obsessed with what and where things went wrong with her daughter Antía. She hasn’t heard anything of Antía for twelve years. Julieta then – isolated from everyone – starts to write her story and the things she could never tell Antía, which intertwines as flashbacks throughout the whole narrative.
Emma Suárez mesmerize us with her melancholic character of old Julieta, and Adriana Ugarte does an excellent work in portraying the different stages that young Julieta has to go through. Almodóvar’s muse Rossy de Palma is seen in a small but powerful character: Marian the housekeeper. The dislike that Marian has towards Julieta makes you think that there is something going on in the seemingly happy-family-story of young Julieta. It is not until the tragic accident of her husband that things get out of Julieta’s hand.
The key components that excel in this complex story are of course the amazing cast, the beautifully detailed cinematography, and Alberto Iglesias’s music score that keeps you on the edge of your seat. These elements are true to Almodóvar’s style and can also be seen in his previous works such as Volver (2006), Talk to Her (2002), and All About My Mother (1999) – just to mention some classics of this filmmaker. The Spanish director has come back to shows us that shame, guilt, death, love, mother-daughter relation, and religion are topics that he can reinvent again and again in an excellent and unexpected way.
Cover image: Screenshot Julieta – The red colour predominant as always in Almodóvar’s works.