Director: Pedro Almodóvar
Writer: Pedro Almodóvar
Based on: three short stories from the book Runaway by Alice Munro
Cast: Emma Suárez, Adriana Ugarte, Priscilla Delgado, Blanca Parés, Daniel Grao, Inma Cuesta, Darío Grandinetti, Michelle Jenner, Pilar Castro, Nathalie Poza
Seen on: 17.8.2016
Julieta (Emma Suárez) has plans to leave the country with her boyfriend Lorenzo (Darío Grandinetti). But just before they leave, she coincidentally meets Bea (Michelle Jenner) who used to be her daughter’s Antía (Priscilla Delgado) best friend. And Bea tells her that she met Antía by chance. Suddenly Julieta cancels all plans for her future and decides to confront her past instead: how she met Xoan (Daniel Grao) when she was a young woman (Adriana Ugarte); how she lived with her daughter and how things changed when Antía grew up (Blanca Parés).
It’s been a while that I genuinely liked an Almodóvar film and, unfortunately, Julieta does not mark a change in that particular trend, as much as I wanted to like it.
I think the main problem that Julieta has is that it mashes together too many stories. I don’t know the original short stories, but I assume that one or two at most should have been enough to fill the film. I did like Julieta’s backstory for the most part (and not just because Adriana Ugarte is unbelievably pretty) and I think I would have liked the story about Julieta and Antía as well if we had got to spend more time with that. But with everything that’s goign on in the film, it feels stuffed and since we jump around between storylines, I never felt like I could get into each storyline. Instead I just waited for the next bit to jolt me out again.
That made the film rather exhausting and it made me lose interest in any of its characters, no matter how promising they set out to be. The longer it went on (and it isn’t actually all that long), the less I cared. About any of it. What should have been an emotionally gripping rollercoaster was just annoying after a while.
I really wish that I felt different about the film. There were so many engaging moments in it. The cinematography was beautiful. Plus, simply the fact that it’s a film about women and their relationships with each other where men are almost reduced to a footnote should appeal to me (there are just way too few films that focus on women).
But the film never really comes together. In a sense, it seems much like its protagonist: It feels frayed and unfocused and doesn’t really know what it wants. What can be charming or at least relatable in a person, simply makes me impatient with the film.