Not with a bang, but with a whimper.
Julieta is one of those films that are all about a few moments. Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar’s emotionally harrowing drama builds up to several key scenes that blindside the viewer only to punch them in the gut.
An ageing mother, estranged from her only daughter, returns to her once imperturbable home to begin recounting her idyllic past and the events that brought her to her now less than model life. Not afraid to confront emotional sequences that would normally be alluded to, referred to in passing or otherwise progressed through cutaways, Almodovar instead places some of the best, and worst moments in his characters’ existence front and centre.
Emotionally resonant not only for their profound and sustained impact but for the very novelty of so emphatically refusing to shy away from the devastatingly low points in a family’s life, Almoldovar doesn’t just want you to feel it, he wants you right down there with the characters, right up in their faces.
Which is why the ending is such a huge disappointment. For the better part of the film it’s all building to this – as its earlier sequences hurled the unsuspecting viewer at Julieta’s emotion-laden bombshells, everything else about this effort says we’re going to be treated to even a slither of the scale of drama unpacked earlier on. And then it’s all over. Just like that.
Anyone who has seen Almodovar’s The Skin I Live In, a far better film, knows the Director isn’t scared of broaching ardently tempestuous or even shocking ground. Touching the right buttons at various junctions, a film like Julieta, roistering in its own heart-rending consequence, is in no way more profound by the absence of a finite resolution, only lacking for the type of ending that could have done justice to so much of the gut-wrenching sentiment it offered almost throughout its runtime.
Refreshingly candid if ineffectively realised, after winding you Julieta sadly resolved to pulls its punches.
Julieta is currently screening at the Sydney Film Festival on Wednesday 15 June and Sunday 19 June, for tickets head to the Festival website