Having been disappointed by Pedro Almodóvar’s last release (Los amantes pasajeros), early reviews led me to be cautiously hopeful that this would be more to my taste.

It is definitely better. It is visually very much Almodóvar – splashes of red, Madrid streets, relationships in turmoil.

Based on a series of short stories by Alice Munro and transposed to Spain, Almodóvar has deliberately stepped away from humour and delved into grief, guilt and loss as the eponymous Julieta explains herself in a letter to her daughter, who has deliberately estranged herself from her mother.

This explaining is a tiny drawback to full enjoyment however. Jumping backwards and forwards in time, with the letter serving as narration, I couldn’t help but think that this would have worked better in the written, rather than visual, format.

But there is also much to admire – the central performances of the younger and older Julieta (Adriana Ugarte and Emma Suárez) are most definitely two ages of the same person and are so beautifully interlinked in a transition shot that takes the breath away.

Long-time Almodóvar choice Rossy de Palma appears to relish playing a very different role than usual, and a sumptuous Hitchcockian score by Alberto Iglesias underlines the drama.

Not Almodóvar’s absolute best, but definitely a treat for the eyes and ears.

This post also appeared at www.filmdispenser.com


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