Julieta: a melancholic masterpiece

Pedro Almodóvar’s Julieta certainly packs a punch. With his bold use of colour and structure, this film can easily be interpreted as his most stirring film to date. Julieta is based on three short stories, ‘Chance’, ‘Silence’ and ‘Soon’ by the Canadian writer, Alice Munro. Yet what makes Julieta so striking is the Spanish director’s ability to seamlessly interweave these three vignettes into a complex and compelling film, exploring themes such as loss, guilt and motherhood.

Almodóvar’s brilliant use of a non-linear structure means he is able to attain a vast scope of the principal character, Julieta, and her life. However, what makes this structure so effective is that it allows viewers to more easily understand Julieta’s inner turmoil as painful moments are repeated, or her happiest memories are juxtaposed with the harsh present day. The shot of young Bea and Antia playing basketball, for example, is repeatedly shown to perhaps parallel the churning of memories within Julieta’s own mind as she struggles to deal with her daughter’s disappearance. Almodóvar’s use of symbolism also works beautifully in tandem with this structure. Julieta is haunted by props within the film, such as the sculptures made by Ava, Xoan’s mistress. Details such as these work to create such an emotionally powerful film.

The use of colour can also not go unnoticed. Right from the opening credits, a close up of Julieta’s crimson dress dazzles viewers as it slowly pulses, mimicking the movement of a human heart. This rich use of colour is sustained throughout the film with the visually stunning shots of the Pyrenees, Galicia and Madrid being accompanied by the bold outfits of both the young and elder Julieta. Whilst the elder figure may not model the bright blue stockings of her younger self, certain pieces such as her Klimt-style dressing gown seem to offer comfort. Similarly, her mother wears a striking retro dress to combat the humiliation of her illness and her husband’s suspected infidelity. This use of colour therefore works to balance the film, as the effect counters the overbearing sadness of the plot.

While Julieta does lack the comic touch of some of the director’s other works, it compassionately explores the intricacies of motherhood and strongly delivers as his most poignant drama yet. A must see for Almodóvar lovers.


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April 2021
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