Review / ‘Julieta’ (M) ****

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julieta-movieTHE source for Spanish writer/director Pedro Almodovar’s first drama film in more than a decade is short stories, “Chance”, “Soon” and “Silence”, from Canadian writer Alice Munro’s book “Runaway”.

Middle-aged Julieta and her partner Lorenzo are on the verge of relocating from Spain to Portugal when they meet Beatriz, once the closest friend of Julieta’s daughter Antia whom Julieta hasn’t seen for more than a decade. When Beatriz tells Julieta that Antia, married with three children, now lives in Switzerland, memory’s floodgates open for Julieta – her relationship with the Galician fisherman Xoan, Antia’s growth to adolescence, Xoan’s death at sea in a storm and Julieta’s hope that Antia, who never returned from a vacation with Bea’s family, will eventually reconnect with her.

Simple stuff, these events, a woman dealing with complex emotions flowing from events over which she has only limited control. But “Julieta” is none of a chick-flick, weepie nor tirade against fate handing her a raw deal. Its story combines credible dramatic elements balanced with wonderful visual values enhancing the delivery of its dramatic ebbs and flows.

As young Julieta, teaching classical literature and language to high school classes, Adriana Ugarte is breathtaking. Emma Suarez makes a seamless transition to grandmother Julieta. The youngsters playing adolescent Antia (Priscilla Delgado) and Beatriz (Sara Jimenez) are fresh and lovely. The film’s two significant men, Daniel Grao as Xoan and Dario Grandinetti as Lorenzo, both quietly love Julieta as skilfully as they know.

At Palace Electric

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Dougal Macdonald
“CityNews” film reviewer

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