Once again the central character in an Almodovar film is a woman. If you enjoy his films, this is Spanish director Pedro Almodovar at his best — back to the brilliance of Talk to Her and All about my Mother
At the beginning we meet the 50-something Julieta (Emma Suarez) living a comfortable life in Madrid. Julieta is planning to abandon her exquisitely stylish white-and-taupe Madrid apartment in order to move to Portugal with her partner Lorenzo (Dario Grandinetti, a previous Almodovar actor in Talk to Her).
Turning a corner in a Madrid street one day, she has a random meet with Beatriz (Michelle Jenner), a childhood best friend of her now adult daughter Antía. Bea reveals that she recently saw Antía in Italy and that she has three children; Julieta did not even know she was a grandmother.
It emerges that Julieta has had no contact with her daughter since Antía was 18. Julieta hasn’t seen Antía since she went on a religious retreat in the mountains 12 years ago. She never came home. Julieta had employed private detectives to find her, but failing, she tried to forget her by moving house and ditching everything that might remind her of her lost daughter.
Now, discovering that her daughter knows that she’s still is in Madrid, she breaks off the relationship with Lorenzo, cancels all plans of moving to Portugal and moves back into the apartment block where she and her daughter lived more than a decade ago. Ensconced into their previous flat, Julieta begins to write letters in a series of journals, addressed to her daughter.
Flashbacks now detail Julieta’s previous life story.
It all started in 1989, with young schoolteacher Julieta (Adriana Ugarte), on a train crossing the Spanish countryside. A man in her carriage harasses a younger Julieta. His attempts at conversation repel her, so she goes to the dining car where she meets the sensitive Xoan (Daniel Grao) a married fisherman, who’s wife is seriously ill. After a tragedy that night on the train, the two sleep together and Antía is conceived .
A few weeks later, Julieta shows up at the fisherman’s picturesque seaside cottage. It is the day of his wife’s funeral. The reception from housekeeper Marian (another Almodovar regular, Rossy de Palma) is frosty, but Xoan’s welcome is passionate, despite another ex-lover, Ava (Inma Cuesta), a local potter, still on the scene and perhaps not so very ex?
Julieta stays on and they raise their child, Antía, together, but the relationship is unlikely to last.
Naturally, our interest lies in discovering what caused the rift between mother and daughter, but typical Almodóvar, he’s in no rush.
Just a bit of gossip: This film was to be his first set entirely outside his native Spain and Meryl Streep was to be his first English-speaking leading lady… don’t know what happened there!
ROK’S FLICKS RATING: 4 glasses of bubbly
Do you enjoy ‘world’ movies? Is this movie of interest to you? If you have seen Julieta, what are your thoughts?
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