Dir: Pedro Almodovar
It can be easy to sum up the work of Spanish director Almodovar in a few words: Gaudy, loud, controversial, melodramatic. Yet Julieta confirms new strings to the director’s bow while maintaining some links with his past.
Julieta is told across a number of time frames. Julieta (played by a vibrant Adriana Ugarte in younger years and a more restrained Emma Suarez in her older incarnation) tells the story of her relationship with her estranged daughter as a means of exorcising ghosts we only discover as she tells her tale. The director is known for a gift for sensitivity depicting women and this is truly on display here. But where more outrageous broad storytelling ruled the day early in his career, more subtlety is now applied. There is even something Hitchcockian about the set-up of the tale with its train setting and mysterious crime tropes.
If anything that set-up causes a trace of disappointment: we have the beginning of a strong story but the punchline just isn’t there. Maybe Almodovar is trying to tell us that life is like that too but without a satisfactory ending, or even a third act, Julieta leaves the reconciliation unreconciled.