Julieta (M18: sexual scenes)
Starring Emma Suárez, Adriana Ugarte Directed by Pedro Almodóvar
From a chance encounter, a middle-aged woman living in Madrid learns that her long-long daughter has resurfaced in the city after inexplicably severing all ties. Pedro Almodóvar’s Julieta spans three decades back and forth between 1985 and 2015 as the heartbroken title heroine begins a journal, reflecting on her past to try to understand the estrangement.
Adriana Ugarte plays Julieta when she was a twentysomething classics teacher; Emma Suárez frames the present.
The two central performances are compressed in a breathtaking scene where Ugarte’s Julieta emerges from under a bath towel as Suárez’s Julieta, the youthful visage worn down over the years by grief.
Julieta is Almodóvar’s frailest maternal figure compared to the matrons of All About My Mother (1999) and Volver (2005) in the way that this, Almodóvar’s 20th feature, based on three short stories by Canadian author Alice Munro, is one of the Spanish auteur’s most subdued despite his striking visual palette of reds and blues. It is a lush female melodrama with the foreboding of a noir mystery thriller in delving into betrayal, loss, and the passing of guilt from one generation to the next. In Spanish with English subtitles. 4/5