Julieta review – Almodóvars five-star return to form | Pedro Almodóvar | The Guardian
Spanish author pedro almodóvar’s latest work, his most moving and mesmerizing work since back in 2006, is a sumptuous and harrowing study of the viral nature of guilt, the mystery of memory and the often unbearable power of love . At times, the emotional intrigue plays out more like a Hitchcock thriller than a romantic melodrama, with Alberto Iglesias’s superb Herrmannesque score (the director cites Toru Takemitsu, Mahler and Alban Berg as influential) enhancing the noir elements, obscuring the bold splashes of red, blue and white. Three short stories from Canadian author Alice Munro’s 2004 runaway volume provide the source material, but Patricia Blacksmith’s spirit looms as strangers on a train fuel the circular narrative (one character even notes that she’s becoming an obsessive blacksmith). ). I was also surprised to find echoes of george sluizer’s 1988 dutch-french chiller spoorloos in the depiction of a life defined by the disappearance of a loved one, though there is a tenderness here entirely missing from sluizer’s generally more relentless work. .
Emma Suárez is fabulous as Julieta, a beautiful, erudite, middle-aged woman who leaves Madrid for Portugal to start a new life with Lorenzo (she talks to her Dario Grandinetti). But a chance encounter with a childhood friend of her daughter, Antía, from whom she is separated from her, disrupts Julieta’s future plans. Instead of moving on, she returns to the apartment block where she and Antía once lived, to write the story of her tragic and almost mythical odyssey. Transported to the 1980s, we meet young Juliet, now played with equal vigor by Adriana Ugarte, one of the film’s many talismanic duplications. For this spiky-haired classics teacher (Greek myth flows through these stories), an overnight train ride provides a fateful brief encounter with love and death, laying the groundwork for all that is to come: their relationship. with the Galician fisherman Xoan (Daniel Grao), the birth of his beloved daughter, Antía, and the predestined separation of both.
Almodóvar initially planned to use Munro’s stories as the basis for a feature film in English, but bringing the material to Spain places the writer-director on fertile ground. as with carne viva from 1997 and la piel que habito from 2011, julieta may have a literary source but the result is entirely almodóvar’s own. we open with a close-up of the billowing folds of a crimson dress, resembling both a heart and a flower, signaling the thicker-than-water themes that will run through the narrative. As Julieta moves back and forth through time and space, Sonia Grande’s costumes and Antxón Gómez’s production design tell their own story: the stark lines of a room where the past has been erased contrast with the noisy clutter of a space full of memories; the fragmented patterns of a dress that match the jagged edges of a torn photograph julieta glues together to confront his past; a blue garment framing a crimson cake that is ritually discarded when he spends another lonely birthday.
after the gruelingly camp sociopolitical satire of How Excited! of 2013, it is a relief to find almodóvar returning to the most introspective themes of works as superior as all about my mother or the flower of my secret. However, despite all the “containment desires” declared by the director in a drama that, as he insists, does not contain “humor or mix of genres”, Julieta manages to unite the disparate elements of Almodóvar’s undisciplined career. . As today’s BFI Southbank retrospective reminds us, he’s come a long way from the punk smut of Pepi, Luci, Bom. There is a Bergmanesque quality to Almodóvar’s approach to Suárez’s face in Juliet that speaks volumes about his journey from enfant terrible to elder statesman. however, as ugarte portrayed her, the young juliet would not have seemed out of place in women on the verge of a nervous breakdown, tie me up! tie me! or high heels, a reminder that the ghosts of Almodóvar’s back catalog (highlighted here by the iconic presence of lifelong muse Rossy de Palma) are as present as the past lives that haunt our heroine.
Deftly bringing together the two central performances is an astonishingly simple sequence that sums up Almodóvar’s genius. while a young antía dries the hair of her devastated mother, ugarte’s face disappears under a towel and resurfaces as suárez’s, julieta’s youthful face transformed by pain. Whether due to coma, depression or dementia, this is a drama plagued by characters living an underworldly existence, trapped by the great silence that is the true villain of the play. swept away by the vision of almodóvar, I felt that the silence deserved to be broken by a tumultuous applause.