Pedro Almadóvar | SPAIN, 2015
Spanish w/English subtitles | 99 minutes
With: Dario Grandinetti, Daniel Grao, Inma Cuesta, Adriana Ugarte, Michelle Jenner, Emma Suárez, Rossy de Palma
Spanish maestro Pedro Almodóvar (Talk to Her, All about My Mother, Volver) is renowned for his ability to move effortlessly from high drama to high farce, exploring the contradictions of human needs and desire through a range of styles and tones. As one of the cinema’s greatest makers of films about women, it is only fitting that for his latest and 20th feature he has chosen to adapt the work of Nobel Prize winner Alice Munro. Mining three stories from Munro’s exquisite collection Runaway and relocating them to Spain, Almodóvar creates a marvelously textured tale that examines the strained relationship between a mother and daughter.
When we first meet Julieta (Emma Suárez), she is a 55-year-old teacher about to move to Lisbon with her husband, Lorenzo (Dario Grandinetti, Wild Tales, Talk to Her), until an unexpected encounter brings an end to those plans and, for reasons unbeknownst to Lorenzo, Julieta insists she must remain in Madrid. Almodóvar then plunges us into the past, where Julieta (now played by Adriana Ugarte) is an effervescent and beautiful young woman who, on a train one late winter night, meets and is enchanted by a handsome young man, Xoan (Daniel Grao). In short order, Julieta becomes pregnant, moves to Xoan’s idyllic fishing village in Galicia, marries him and begins to raise their daughter, Anitá. In the full glow of her happiness, it seems that nothing could possibly go wrong.
And so the film moves forward and backward through time as it chronicles Julieta’s relationship and eventual rupture with her beloved daughter (played alternately by Priscilla Delgado and Blanca Pares), while in the present Lorenzo follows her around Madrid, intent on unraveling the mystery behind her sudden decision. Evoking such earlier Almodóvar films as High Heels and All about My Mother, Julieta reflects on the magic of chance encounters and the fragility of relationships in the face of long-buried secrets.