Pedro Almodóvar is a master of the modern melodrama, but his latest film “Julieta” falls well below the high-water mark of prior masterworks like “All About My Mother” or “Talk to Her.” The work is technically proficient, per usual, but emotionally empty. Almodóvar gives some early hints of Hitchockian style, but they all pass sadly without consummation.
This tale of a woebegone middle-aged woman, Emma Suárez’s Julieta, as she recounts the events that led her to such a sorry state lacks any sense of stakes or dramatic tension. Almodóvar adapted the film from an Alice Munro short story, so “Julieta” does not pass without commentary about the limited roles available to women in society as well as the stifling expectations placed upon them. Julieta grapples with an unfaithful husband, an ailing mother and a daughter who grows further apart from her following a misunderstood tragedy.
Almodóvar’s observations hardly count as subversive or worthy of feature-length consideration, however. Most of “Julieta” contains elements we have seen before – and better. I had been meaning to rewatch Almodóvar’s films like “Volver” and “Broken Embraces” to complement the viewing of “Julieta.” Perhaps I should have watched them instead of “Julieta.” C+ /