Starring: Emma Suárez, Adriana Ugarte, Daniel Grao
Director: Pedro Almodóvar
Running Time: 99 mins
Julieta is a Spanish film about a woman who begins to look over the events of her life and how her family came apart after an accidental encounter in present day.
Pedro Almodóvar is always one for crafting engrossing and intimate emotional stories that still spark with a strong element of mystery and high drama. When it comes to Julieta, that style continues, and although it’s not a consistently enthralling watch from start to finish, it features a great central performance from Emma Suárez, along with Almodóvar’s typical vibrant visual style.
Let’s start on the plus side, with Almodóvar’s direction. If there’s one thing that I really liked about Julieta, it’s the atmosphere. The director does a great job at mixing small and intimate emotions with a much bigger and more powerful story, and it makes for a very coherent flow from start to finish, despite the plot’s occasional wobbles in the middle portion.
What’s more is that the film looks absolutely brilliant. Almodóvar’s brilliant colours shine brightly at the film’s brightest moments, as well as the lovingly crafted 1980s era where his films really began to take off. However, this film isn’t one to shy away from being dark when it needs to, and at some of the more emotionally weighty moments, the film’s visuals become just as dark, representing a stark contrast to heighten the emotional effect from time to time.
Another plus here is the performance from Emma Suárez. Playing Julieta in the present day, Suárez shows her character’s deep emotional exhaustion as a result of a difficult past, something that glimmers well early on without revealing too much, and then goes all out in an excellent performance in the film’s final act.
In fact, the film’s best parts are without a doubt when Suárez is playing the protagonist in present day, as they offer a far bolder and more engrossing emotional story that still feels particularly intimate thanks to her performance, something that I wish the film managed to pull off right the way through.
And that’s where my biggest issue with Julieta comes in: the middle portion. For the bulk of this movie, we spend time watching Julieta as a younger woman beginning her own family life, and the various hardships she faces along the way, but it’s not quite as engrossing as it needs to be.
Although there are moments where the character’s emotional turmoil makes for an interesting watch, it’s a generally much flatter middle portion that doesn’t replicate the close emotional power that the opening and final acts do, largely due to slightly uneven pacing and a plot that doesn’t always feel like it makes 100% sense, which was a shame for me to see.
Despite that, I was intrigued by Julieta. Starting and finishing on a high note, although falling down in the middle, the film is a generally emotionally engrossing watch that takes Almodóvar’s classic directing style and makes it work well with yet another mysterious and intimate story, and that’s why I’m giving this a 7.3 overall.