DVD Review - Julieta

It's lesser Pedro Almodóvar. The queer, Spanish filmmaker has an incredible body of work over a career of about 30 years. Looking back over the decades, Almodóvar has made some truly great movies. This latest effort probably doesn't crack the top ten for his best-ranked films. It certainly feels like a lot of female-driven dramas that he's done before. It's just not as exciting. There's nothing provocative, daring or even queer about this film. There's not much of a mystery, not much intrigue and not much danger. It's all pretty straight-forward and safe. The movie starts out as somewhat sexy but steadily falls off. It just lacks any real thrills.

It was Spain's official submission to the 89th Academy Awards. It failed to make the shortlist, let alone the nomination. Strangely, a film that did get the nomination is comparable to this one. The film from Poland, A Man Called Ove, is about an elderly man who has been widowed and is now remembering his life as a young man. Yet, he has no children and the movie is more about him making connections to other people in his present life.

Emma Suárez stars as Julieta, an elderly woman, though not as elderly as the man in that Polish film. She's probably best-described as middle-aged. She is also widowed in a sense and she too is remembering her life as a young woman, or at least a younger woman. This isn't about her making connections to other people in her present life. This movie is all about her past.

Actually, Adriana Ugarte plays the younger Julieta and carries the bulk of this film. The reason is because it's too rooted in her reconciling things that happen in that past. Much like in that Polish film or many other Almodóvar films, what's being reconciled is the death of a loved one.

The fact that there's nothing to the death that makes it intriguing or compelling outside of it being something that occurs makes this movie a bit dull. The way it's even depicted isn't compelling either. It basically happens off screen and then is brushed over. Yet, it's supposed to be this significant or climactic moment in Julieta's life. Unfortunately, Almodóvar never made me feel it. A random stranger who commits suicide on a train is depicted with more dramatic weight than the death of an allegedly, important person in Julieta's life.

Almodóvar then tries to build some kind of intrigue with Julieta's daughter, Antía. The film is in fact framed around Julieta writing a letter to her adult daughter. We later learn that Antía has effectively disappeared and Julieta hasn't seen or heard from her daughter in about 12 years. Yet, whatever story or thread that could have sprung from this detail withers away in the third act and seemingly has not much impact.

Rated R for some sexuality and nudity.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 39 mins.


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