Julieta

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
Julieta Movie Poster Image
Colorful, subtle, mature soap opera from Almodóvar.
  • R
  • 2016
  • 99 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Nothing notably positive. Message seems to be: Unfortunate events happen, and they can often be followed by blame and lack of forgiveness.

Positive Role Models & Representations

A woman, a victim of unfortunate circumstances, tries to remain available to her daughter, but nothing comes of her decision -- or her sacrifice.

Violence

Characters die; one must be identified at the morgue (only a tattoo is shown). Possible suicide by train (nothing shown). A woman is hit by a car and has a bruised face. Arguing.

Sex

More than one sex scene. Intimate scenes include thrusting, a topless woman, and a naked bottom. Kissing. A man is said to have cheated on his wife. Anatomically correct sculptures.

Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Some smoking and drinking (wine).

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Julieta is a Spanish-language drama (with English subtitles) by acclaimed director Pedro Almodovar, based on stories by Alice Munro. It's mainly a soap opera-like story about bad things happening to good people and other people misunderstanding things, and it should appeal to mature viewers who love soaps or foreign cinema. Characters die, and one must be identified at the morgue. There's a possible suicide by train, and a woman is hit by a car, with bruises shown. Sex scenes get pretty graphic, with naked breasts and bottoms shown and some thrusting. A man is said to have had an affair, and anatomically correct sculptures are shown. Characters smoke and drink (wine) briefly.

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What's the story?

JULIETA begins in the present day, as the aging but still beautiful Julieta (Emma Suarez) prepares to move from Madrid to Portugal with her lover (Dario Grandinetti). Then she runs into a face from her past and receives news about her daughter, missing for a dozen years, and decides to stay put and wait to be contacted. Julieta then writes a letter, detailing the beginning of the story, and, in flashback, a younger Julieta (Adriana Ugarte) meets her handsome, bearded fisherman husband, Xoan (Daniel Grao), who recently lost a wife. Julieta clashes with Xoan's nasty housekeeper (Rossy de Palma), but she marries him anyway. They have a daughter and are happy, until the family suffers a terrible tragedy that ultimately leads to the daughter's departure. Can mother and daughter ever reunite?

Is it any good?

Spanish director Pedro Almodovar adapts three stories by Nobel Prize-winning writer Alice Munro; though his sensibilities are quite different from her style, the result is surprisingly satisfying. The three masterful, connected tales are from the 2004 collection Runaway -- a book that again allowed Munro to display her powerful gift. She can create incredibly rich and detailed worlds within the limited space of a short story; her tales sometimes feel like entire novels.

Almodovar isn't generally that subtle. He is, perhaps, along with Todd Haynes, the world's leading student of Douglas Sirk, bold like a beating heart, with giant swaths of red in every corner. But, somehow, Julieta emerges as a subtle soap opera, balanced between Munro's exquisite storytelling and Almodovar's more unsubtle style, a rewarding blend of anguished emotions and deep, intimate details. The director keeps the histrionics to a minimum, and there's very little of the aggravatingly broad humor found in his last film, I'm So Excited! The exceptional performances by both Suarez and Ugarte are the icing on a colorful cake.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Julieta depicts sex. Does it seem positive? Meaningful? How do foreign movies and American movies tend to differ in the way they handle sex?

  • What's the appeal of "weepies," aka soap operas? What makes this movie "soapy"? How does it compare to Almodovar's previous films?

  • Why do you think the daughter doesn't return to her mother? Is it a matter of forgiveness or something deeper? What would you have done?

  • If you've read Alice Munro's short stories, how does Julieta compare to them? In general, which do you prefer -- the book or the movie?

Movie details

Themes & Topics

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