Monday, 5 September 2016

REVIEW - JULIETA (PEDRO ALMODOVAR)


Pedro Almodovar delves into the design of the mind in Julieta, which sees the famously flamboyant Spanish director in a more restrained mood than usual. It's a fine move to make, since Almodovar has no intention of shunning those qualities that define his style and sensibilities - laid out calmly and quietly, Julieta offers the viewer an excellent opportunity to absorb his methods and assess their significance. Bold strokes for a bold narrative, of course, as Almodovar indulges in a typically ripe melodrama; the synergy of style and content does not overpower the subtler, more softly-spoken thematic and emotional concerns, however. These all are used in direct conjunction with one another, as Almodovar uses the volume of his technical devices to allude to the oscillating mental states of his characters. In such an emotionally knotty story, this may be a plain and predictable strategy, but it's also a successful one, and it permits an otherwise harrowing film, surely susceptible to succumbing to maudlin despair, to be fun! Julieta is hardly Almodovar at his most playful - not that that's saying much - but after ironically weighing his recent films down with too much lightness and frivolity, you might just be grateful for this scaling back. It's a sensitive and affecting film with superb performances and no small amount of empathy. Julieta further confirms that few filmmakers today understand the design of a woman's mind better than Pedro, and it's a modest, but most welcome, return to delving inside them.