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:: Julieta

Though Pedrp Almodovar's newest film, Julieta, is good, I can't over-enthuse about it. In this melodrama Almodovar adapts several Alice Munro short stories into the one cohesive plot. After running into a friend of her estranged daughter, Julieta (played by both Adriana Ugarte as the older Julieta and Emma Suárez as the younger) decides to contact her daughter with a tell-all letter explaining her past and scrutinising the circumstances that lead to their estrangement.

The film is ostensibly about guilt, Julieta’s guilt. This overriding emotion begins to infect the character early on, as she takes a train which a man throws himself off of and commits suicide. Just moments before this he had tried to talk to her, but she had taken his efforts to connect to be unwanted advances, and she ran away. Later in the story her husband dies, and again she feels a sense of guilt, not helped by her daughter ultimately blaming her for his death.

This intense guilt spreads and courses through Julieta’s veins like a virus, but this emotion never really breaks through the screen and into your own thoughts and feelings. Both Suarez and Ugarte are perfectly fine in their respective Julieta roles, but they’re not delivering performances that reach out into the audience and pull hard on your heart strings; they and the story of the film’s various guilt-ridden twists just flicker on the screen a little dully, without sparking into life.

The filmmaking is anything but dull though, as Almodovar’s wonderful eye for production design and gorgeous approach to framing and camerawork is all on display here to the nth degree. Like so much in Julieta, it’s stunning to look at but it’s not in service of a narratively, emotionally or thematically rich narrative and therefore it simply feels wasted.