Review: Julieta by Pedro Almodóvar

Not so much a film as repeated punches to the organs of empathy and emotion. Cathartic but maybe not a film to see if you are feeling emotionally fragile. Death and loss and how smaller betrayals amount to greater tragedies but with a sour note about people getting what they deserve.

The film is told as an extended flashback. Julieta (Emma Suárez) is a middle-aged woman living alone in a minimalist apartment. When we first meet her she is packing up her apartment in Madrid in preparation to move to Portugal with her boyfriend (Darío Grandinetti). However, in a chance meeting, she encounters a childhood friend of her daughter’s. This encounter forces Julieta to confront events in her past in the form of an extended diary/letter to her estranged daughter.

The film flips back to Julieta’s younger self (Adriana Ugarte) and the events both mundane and tragic that have led her to this point.

Extraordinary acting by the two leads results in what is easily the most convincing performance by two actors of one person at different ages that I can think of. As you might expect from Almodóvar, there is a sense of style throughout but not much humour compared with some of his other films.

More troubling is the premise put forward by one character that people essentially get what they deserve. While this is treated as a pathological form of guilt (Julieta describes it as a virus which she unwittingly spread), the structure of the film seems to reinforce this notion. In part the notion that tragedy, death, illness follows as a consequence of betrayal runs through the film because it is Julieta’s own account and it is she that is tying events together pathologically – most notably a suicide of a stranger which she manifestly holds no actual responsibility for but which occurs in a fashion which quite believably has great impact on her.

A heartbreaking film with powerful acting.



  1. David Brain

    More troubling is the premise put forward by one character that people essentially get what they deserve.
    Which is why Trump is going to win on Tuesday. Even if he loses.


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