Julieta (NYFF Review)

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Pedro Almodovar is one of world cinema’s most audacious artists, which makes Julieta all the more disappointing. This is the provocateur at his most formally dry and lifeless. With the exception of stark red, blue, yellow clothing juxtaposed against wallpaper in flat environmental framing, the director’s usual flourishes are stripped down to focus on a more monotonous and stagnant mood. It’s commendable for an artist to expand his horizons, but the story ironically yearns for explosive taboo. An assortment of short stories written by Alice Monroe should cater to Almodovar’s indulgences, but the adaptation is far too academic and detached to fully invest in, thus preventing the emotion to ever reach an apex. The only passion involved is generated by its actors. Adriana Ugarte carries the younger Julieta through a trial of love and tribulation with an expressive curiosity, while Emma Suarez is tasked with conveying the internal regrets associated with middle-age. Unfortunately, this is a film desperately in search of momentum much like its flashback-dictated structure. [C+]

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