a woman deals with loss and memory in pedro almodovar's film. it's somewhat muted but still richly isfying.

julieta

the family life of julieta (adriana ugarte) goes from bad to worse in "julieta."(p o: manolo pavón/sony pictures cl ics)

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  • critic's rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

think of “julieta” as pedro almodovar unplugged.

the director tones down somewhat his signature look (loud and busy colors) and vibe (heightened melodrama) for something a little more muted in this tale of loss and tragedy. maybe that’s fitting, given the subject matter.

then again, if it was anyone besides almodovar behind the era, we wouldn’t be saying this, and the film is beautiful. there’s still plenty of color and melodrama; it’s just not over the top. the director of films like “talk to me,” “volver,” “tie me up! tie me down!” and “all about my mother” has made a movie a bit more reserved, but still richly isfying.

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we meet the title character at the beginning of the story, played by emma suarez. she lives in madrid, but is preparing to move with her boyfriend (dario grandinetti) when she runs into a childhood friend of her daughter.

xoan (daniel grao), a fisherman, starts a family with

xoan (daniel grao), a fisherman, starts a family with the title character in "julieta."

 (p o: manolo pavón/sony pictures cl ics)

suddenly the move is off, and julieta won’t say why. instead we plunge into extended flashbacks, in which her story and her decision are explained.

we see the younger julieta (played by adriana ugarte), a cl ics teacher on her way to a job. she meets someone on the train and a one-night stand ensues; she learns she is pregnant and moves to the seaside home of the man, xoan (daniel grao), a fisherman, who’s taken care of by a nosy housekeeper (the great rossy de palma, an almodovar staple).

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xoan and julieta raise their daughter, but happiness is not a particular constant in almodovar’s movies. without giving too much away, their happy family life is not as completely delightful as it appears, and things go from bad to worse.

betrayal, death, separation, longing, estran ent — they’re still in play for the director, although the way in which they are employed may surprise you.

emma suarez plays a mature version of the title character

emma suarez plays a mature version of the title character in "julieta."

 (p o: manolo pavón/sony pictures cl ics)

both suarez and ugarte are excellent, different sides of the same coin, you might say. almodovar, who based his script loosely on three short stories by alice munro, always has written strong roles for women, and he gives them — ugarte in particular — plenty to work with.

it’s by no means a ghost story — there’s nothing supernatural about the film — but “julieta’ is very much a movie about how memory haunts us, and how difficult it can be to escape its grasp.

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'julieta,' 3.5 stars

director: pedro almodovar.

cast: emma suarez, adriana ugarte, daniel grao.

rating: r for some uality/nudity.

note: at harkins elview at fashion square.

great ★★★★★ good ★★★★

fair ★★★ bad ★★ bomb ★

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