Posted Aug 30 2016
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Julieta - This Un Movie De Almodovar Rocks Beautifully

Une film de Almodovar

Satrring Adriana Ugarte, Emma Suarez, Daniel Grao

It’s so satisfying when you see a great filmmaker return to something approaching form. Given that Pedro’s last movie was the appalling I’m So Excited! no one was really expecting much anymore.

Yet, Julieta suddenly appears, and proves itself to be one of the finest films the man has ever made. Based on a collection of short stories by Alice Munro, and originally designed to be the filmmaker’s first English-language movie before he retreated to his native tongue, Julieta is a strong drama, a tale of loss, a melodrama awash with Hitchcockian suggestion, and, very simply, a deeply moving and very beautiful film.

Set across two time periods, it is about the loss of family and loved ones, sometimes literal, sometimes existential, always felt. We first meet Julieta as an older woman (a superb Suarez) as she is about to start a new life with a new man away from Madrid. But a random reminder of her daughter Antia, estranged for more than a decade in a way Julieta has never been able to understand let alone come to terms with, throws her life into chaos, prompting her to write a journal for her child, explaining all she may not know. Which leads us into a series of flashbacks in which a young Julieta (a superb Ugarte) recalls meeting the child’s father and the events that led to mother and daughter’s separation.

Despite Almodovar deploying an almost thriller like sense of tension at times, there are no earth shattering revelations here, merely quiet family moments and emotions that echo through the ages. It’s a beautifully delicate film that unwraps itself to its audience in finely modulated, often brief, events. At times it is warm and enveloping, at others almost devastatingly painful in the smallest of ways.

It is acted to perfection by all concerned, most notably the two Julietas – Suarez and Ugarte, who inhabit the same woman, but brilliantly convey the differences that come with different ages and experience.

It’s also sumptuous to look at, with Almodovar employing his usual primary colour palette in all sorts of subdued ways. Hitchcock is clearly a visual influence as much as a thematic one (Patricia Highsmith gets a shout out as well) so special mention must also be made of Alberto Iglesias’s hugely evocative score.

Julieta sees Pedro Almodovar as good as he’s ever been. Possibly better than he’s ever been.

 

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