After teetering off from his typical brand with 2011’s The Skin I Live In and taking a turn for the complete opposite direction with I’m So Excited! in 2013, it appears that Pedro Almodóvar is back to his regular form with Julieta. What can be best described as if a Maurice Pialat film crossed paths with Brian De Palma’s Passionintertwined with all the notable Almodóvar-isms, Julieta is one hell of an experience to soak up. With gorgeous shots all throughout Spain ranging from the busy streets of Madrid to all the way up in the mountains, Jean-Claude Larrieu’s photography is some of the most jarring work I’ve yet to come across in a film all year. With richly textural compositions of our main protagonist looking out through a window frame into the sea to tracking her on the street as she walks past an array of different materials, the camera paints a wonderfully vibrant portrait of Spain.
Spanning over the course of thirty years certainly isn’t an easy thing to pull off. Taking a similar approach as Mia Hansen-Løve has been known to do with processing a long period of time into her own work, Almodóvar doesn’t put much into his characters’ appearance as time goes by throughout the course of the film. Whereas Hansen-Løve uses this approach to present how her characters’ are seemingly unaffected by time flashing before their eyes, it’s not so much the case with Almodóvar. Mainly just swapping back and forth between two actresses and adjusting the wardrobe to the particular era, the lack of emphasis on the physical appearance of Almodóvar’s characters can often times become tricky for determining where in the timeline individual events are taking place. Relying heavily on the nostalgic feeling that our protagonist looks back upon, Julieta operates as a vehicle to dig in and dissect the inner-turmoil that she faces and the guilt that surrounds her current-day life.
Almodóvar’s presentation, while somewhat messy, still manages to be one of the most heartfelt presentations of a woman’s past regrets in a way that hasn’t been put to screen before. With both Adriana Ugarte and Emma Suárez playing the titular Julieta Arcos, it’s remarkable how connected both portrayals of Julieta feel. Ugarte manages to capture this feeling of Suárez’s present-day Julieta looking back at herself as if she were going through a scrapbook of her very own life. It’s refreshing to see Almodóvar back in his wheelhouse of working with heavily female-centered character pieces since there’s very few who come close to delivering as consistently transfixing pieces of the same nature.