I’m a big fan of Pedro Almodóvar’s films. Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown. Volver. Bad Education. Talk To Her. The Skin I Live in. All of them terrific, unlike his latest film.
Julieta is a character study in which the title character (played at different ages by Emma Suárez and Adriana Ugarte) recalls the events leading up to her estrangement from her daughter Antía. It’s roughly along the lines of a Boyhood, except the 99-minute Julieta feels far longer than the nearly three-hour Linklater film. Most of the scenes are loaded with unnecessary detail, which makes it feel aimless and scatterbrained, but it’s poorly presented so that you’re not always sure where things are happening or what’s really going on. Even the core plot isn’t apparent right away, and I was led astray a couple of times into thinking that it was going to focus on one storyline only to find that it was either irrelevant or of lesser importance. The women are portrayed as irrational and hyperemotional, while the men are unabashed philanderers, so it’s hard to sympathize with anyone. There’s not the slightest hint of comedy, and any time the film gives us something that we might enjoy, it rips it away again, often without explanation. Even the musical cues seem out of place, with odd choices like the building ominous score that the movie provides for a scene with a woman sitting on a park bench.
I really have nothing more to say about this dull, meandering mess of a film. I’m baffled by its selection as Spain’s awards candidate film over the far better The Invisible Guest, and can only assume that it’s getting the nod purely on the strength of Almodóvar’s earlier work. He’s definitely got many films worth watching, but Julieta isn’t one of them.