Rated R

99 Minutes

Released December 21st

 

Pedro Almdovar uses color as a language. He noted in a Q&A after a screening of his latest film Julieta, that he uses the color red sparsely so that it keeps its impact, especially when it underscores a woman’s emotions. Julieta begins with a screen filled with the deep red folds of a robe that the main character wears as she silently wraps a curvaceous sculpture with great care and deliberation. You know immediately that this is a woman with deep passion lying just under the surface of her countenance. It is important when watching an Almodovar film to suspend your sense of urgency. Pretend you are sipping slowly from a glass of cinematic wine, enjoying the flavor and warmth as you relax into it.

 

The screenplay that Almodovar has written for Julieta is taken from three short stories by Canadian Nobel-Prize-winning author Alice Munro: “Chance,” “Soon,” and “Silence”. The director says he has been a fan of her work for years.

 

Julieta is a sensual woman with a mix of strengths and flaws. She embraces her life and her relationships with intensity. We are introduced to her as an older woman who has seen tragedy and has questioned her reason to exist. We understand that she has great sensitivity to the pain of those around her and a deep frustration at her inability to completely control the forces that shape the lives of those to whom she has become emotionally attached.

 

Then we see Julieta as a younger woman and experience the life changing events that have made her who she is now. In the end she has grown into a woman with an insatiable will to understand and to try to gain some control of her world in spite of the random forces that compel people to make the choices they make. She sees her own emotional transcendence in the life of her estranged daughter who now has endured a tragedy of her own.

 

Celebrated Spanish actress Emma Suarez, whose career in film and TV has spanned over 35 years, portrays the angst and passion that define the older “Julieta”. Adriana Ugarte, also an accomplished actress from Spanish film and TV, plays the younger version. Watch for a pivotal scene in the film where images of older and younger Julieta blend.

 

The film was shot in the locations where the story takes place: Madrid, Galicia and Andalusia in southwestern Spain. The settings play an emotional role in the film. In one segment Julieta moves back to a building she lived in during an important period in her life. Cinematographer Jean-Claude Larrieu captures the essence of the energy of Madrid, the whitewashed brightness of Galicia and the breeziness of a Mediterranean fishing village. Production designer Antxon Gomez, who has worked several times with Almodovar, chooses the colors and placement of objects perfectly.

 

Julieta is a European style deep psychological study on film. If you are an Almodovar fan you will not be disappointed.

 

 

 

Kathryn Whitney Boole has spent most of her life in the entertainment industry, which is the backdrop for remarkable adventures with extraordinary people. She is a Talent Manager with Studio Talent Group in Santa Monica. kboole@gmail.com. For previously published reviews see https://kwboole.wordpress.com