Review by Dustin Heller
Julieta is the new Spanish-speaking drama from acclaimed director Pedro Almodóvar. His body of work includes films such as The Skin I Live In, Volver, and Talk to Her; the latter of which won him a Best Original Screenplay Oscar in 2003. Like a number of his other films, Julieta played in competition at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival.
The film stars Emma Suárez and Adriana Ugarte as older and younger versions of Julieta, with Daniel Grao, Inma Cuesta, Darío Grandinetti, Michelle Jenner and Rossy de Palma supporting. Julieta is rated R for some sexuality/nudity.
In preparation for her move from Madrid to Portugal, Julieta has a chance meeting on the street with her daughter’s best friend from childhood. The meeting instantly stirs up a number of emotions for Julieta who hasn’t seen her daughter in over twelve years. This sends her into a tailspin and her new focus becomes reconnecting with her daughter and tying up loose ends along the way.
In order to do so, she writes a letter to her daughter explaining much of their past and how they both got to this place. The film jumps back and forth between timelines of Julieta in the present day and also the events that led her to this point in her life. After all these years of uncertainty, she now must go on a personal journey that will force her to face her demons and ask herself some very tough questions.
First off, Julieta is no doubt a film for the art house crowd; and I’m not sure it’s a very good one at that. The technical aspect of the film is top-notch, but the story itself just fell flat and left me wanting something more. I wouldn’t go as far as to call it boring, but there just wasn’t enough substance to hold my interest throughout.
It is a rather curious film in that the look and sound come across as something from a bygone era. The filming style of the flashback scenes felt like they were genuinely shot during that time period. It creates an interesting aura around the film, but I couldn’t quite tell if I thought it was brilliant or just cheesy.
No getting around it, Pedro Almodóvar is a world-class director and very highly regarded in the realm of film, but even his brilliance couldn’t breathe life into Julieta. Even for those that love art-house and foreign films, I don’t see any reason to rush out to the theater to see it.
Julieta opens in Indianapolis on Friday, February 10