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TIFF 2016 Review: “Julieta” (2016) ★★★★★


We often do not completely understand the true feeling of loss or grief until we experience it ourselves. That of course, is something none of us would like to go through. But what to do when it happens, or, how to prevent the unavoidable?

Pedro Almodóvar is a master who tells the story in not the usual manner, such as black and white, but rather in red and black, where red stands for passion, love, fire and even blood, while black has always had one meaning – loss, which is what his latest feature film is about.

Julieta follows Julieta (Emma Suárez), who has lost all communication with her already grown-up daughter, Antía. It marks a long twelve years since she last heard anything from her. Now, the woman is ready to settle down and face the reality that Antía will never come back. She gets ready to move to Portugal with her lover Lorenzo, when a sudden meeting changes everything. Bea, Antía’s long-time friend, tells Julieta that she recently met with her daughter. When Julieta finds out that her only child lives in Madrid, she changes her mind and decides to stay and wait for any letter that may or may not come. As she descends into madness and loneliness, Julieta starts recalling events that put a beginning to the end of her once happy life…

The dramatic tone of the film continues as it turns into a nightmarish experience for Julieta, when she moves back into the building that was known to Antía. Julieta begins writing a diary where she addresses the first line to her daughter, in which she promises to tell the whole story of how she met her father, Xoan, many years ago. We’re taken back in time, where young Julieta (Adriana Ugarte) meets him in the train, where the suicide of her neighbor haunts her for years to come – as his facial expression before passing is something she can never erase.

The loss of space and time is what fascinates most in this film – which we must thank both actresses for in their seamless portrayal of Julieta in two different stages of life. The way Emma Suárez and Adriana Ugarte studied the character, as well as her physical look was truly phenomenal. In the meantime, Almodóvar proves once again that no one except him can deliver such an educational subject matter, such as the true grit of grief over the loss of a loved one. And when that happens, nothing can bring back time, not even regret – for the only thing we have no control over – is time itself.


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