Munro, Almodovar, “Julieta”

The protag in Pedro Almodovar‘s Julieta (2016), the beautiful Julieta (played as a young woman by Adriana Ugarte) meets and engages in sex with a bearded man called Xoan while traveling on a train.  The sex scene is one of the proofs that this movie has in it more than a touch of art despite being a soundly commercial concoction.

Based on three stories by Alice Munro, it’s a pretty decent film about trauma and separation.  Julieta is made pregnant by Xoan, so she later finds and marries him, with the first trauma not far ahead.  Julieta can be soapy but Almodovar, in adapting his script and competently directing Ugarte, displays misery as vivid as the color red in the film.

As for the subject of separation, the film captures the awful state of a mother whose child (a daughter) chooses to back out of the mother’s life, made worse by Mom’s taking the blame for the backing-out.

The director’s bad-boy tackiness is absent in Julieta; instead, there is a Munro-like concentration on the human condition.  Mr. A shows some genuine tenderness, and he refuses to judge his characters.  A serious if brightly colored middlebrow artwork is what we have here, and actors Carmen Suarez, as the middle-aged Julieta, and Rossy de Palma, as a soul frumpish and melancholy, know what they’re doing.

(In Spanish with English subtitles)

 

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