From Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (1988) and All About My Mother (1999) to Volver (2006), Almodóvar’s filmography has been Spain’s most prominent cultural export for decades as well as a constant, inexhaustible source of fiercely female-centric stories. His latest, while not quite reaching previous celestial heights, is nonetheless an aesthetic and narrative knockout delivered with musical flourish.
Told mostly through flashbacks as a middle-aged Julieta recalls happier times and her disappearing bond with daughter Antía, the simmering melodrama deals with commonplace themes like guilt, shame, jealousy and betrayal yet never ceases to surprise. Each new reveal feels as devastatingly personal as a fresh wound, leaving you staggered by the capacity and depth of a woman’s mind. Less unexpected is how fabulous the film looks and sounds: colours are weaponised to make bold emotional statements in every frame, cushioned by Alberto Iglesias’ flowery jazz score. Playing the titular character at different stages of her life, Suárez and Ugarte complete a compelling portrayal that beguiles throughout.
Julieta | Directed by Pedro Almodóvar (Spain 2016) with Emma Suárez, Adriana Ugarte. Starts August 4