Panorama | Special Presentations | Style in Film
After the raucous sex comedy of I’m So Excited and the psychological body horror of The Skin I Live In, Pedro Almodóvar brings us a vivid, female-driven picture that takes him back to a near-extinct genre: the heart-on-the-sleeve melodrama. Based on stories by Alice Munro, Julieta uses a familiar framework to house the director’s idiosyncratic style.
The turning point in our heroine’s life was her daughter’s inexplicable disappearance long ago. Now in her 50s and still searching,, Julieta happens upon one of the girl’s childhood friends who may just offer a break in the case. She begins to write a letter to her estranged child, sifting through memories in hope of uncovering an explanation but finding only grief and guilt.
This is an actresses’ movie above all else—a vehicle for the mesmerizing duet of Adriana Ugarte and Emma Suárez, who alternate in the lead role. Ugarte is a firecracker exploding with joie de vivre as the young Julieta, and Suárez picks up the baton for the present-day scenes that unfold when Julieta has reached the end of her tether. In one sense this is more straightforward stuff than we expect from the Spanish director, but it’s far from a sedate experience: in the best tradition of melodrama, Julieta throws itself onto the screen in an inferno of emotion and colour.
“The way the film’s story is gradually pieced together through extended flashbacks offers a cumulative power that’s finally extremely moving and teasingly free of easy resolution.”—Dave Calhoun, Time Out