Pedro Almodóvar‘s exquisite film explores the life of Julieta in a story told in flashback over 30 years of the title-characters’ regretful and guilty memories that, in turn, have led her to be estranged from those close to her.
Early on, we learn that twelve years ago her daughter, Antia, had left without warning and hadn’t spoken to Julieta since and in that time she’d given up looking, because her daughter didn’t want to be found, but after a chance encounter with one of Antia’s childhood friends, Ava, Julieta returns home to rekindle the search and consequentially re-examine what actually happened all those years ago.
Based on the short stories from Runaway by Alice Munro, the film takes us on a journey into Julieta’s life from an independent young woman right through becoming a mother, losing her husband in a tragic accident and growing older. While this drama doses itself in the melancholic remorse of our lead, it’s also somehow deeply compelling as you learn of all the moments in her life that have led it in a different direction to the one she was hoping. Somehow its saddening elements are portrayed with such a specific nature that I didn’t end up finding it negative, just honest and emotive.
Both Adriana Ugarte and Emma Suárez who play Julieta in her younger and later life, respectively, give absolutely inspirational performances that are full of innumerable levels of passion, love, regret and loss but, also, somewhere inside there’s definitely hope as well for something better and the vision of a more positive future with a deep-seated desire for absolution.
There’s layer upon layer of story as Julieta’s history unfolds and unravels an honest, poignant and often tragic story where major events occur and obviously have an effect on both her life and her daughter Antia. It’s exquisitely filmed and captivatingly portrayed as Suárez and Ugarte bring full life to this unique character in Almodovar’s decades-spanning drama.