Julieta is a masterful melodrama by Pedro Almodóvar, adapted from a few Alice Munro short stories. Julieta, played alternately by a dolorous Emma Suárez and the magnetic Adriana Ugarte, is a middle-aged classicist living in Madrid. Her chance encounter with her estranged daughter’s childhood friend shakes her, causing her to re-examine her life. Henceforth much of the movie is a flashback to Julieta’s twenties. By not brushing over the wrinkles of uncomfortable situations, Julieta is harshly funny. The movie is also poignant, as it is suffused with tragedy. That tragedy is presented elliptically and poetically. In fact, many of the film’s compositions, like a looming storm or an elk in heat, are poetic or artful. Yet, while artful, the movie does not waste your time like slow Art Films—it’s well-paced and not boring. The melodramatic score evokes noir/thriller/suspense genres. Certain key relationships are presented through subtle gestures. This being an Almodóvar picture, the movie is inevitably erotic. This isn’t the camp eroticism of The Handmaiden, but hot-and-heavy eroticism, portrayed artfully, through a pan of a nude body or a reflection of sex on a window. And it’s sensual, too. Because who but Almodóvar can make the cooking of an omelet look so hot?
By Alec Julian & Carrie White