Pedro Almodóvar’s “Julieta” is designed in big, bright colors – red and blue, primarily. This is not one of Almodóvar’s antic frolics, nor is it one of his corrosively dark fantasias. Based on a trio of Alice Munro stories, it’s relatively straightforward, at least by Almodóvar’s standards. It’s about Julieta, played in middle age by Emma Suárez, who may have discovered the whereabouts of her long-lost daughter, Antia, now an adult, with whom she had a fraught relationship. Most of Julieta’s relationships, especially with men, including her ex-husband, have been fraught. She has taken it upon herself to be the one to blame. She has martyred herself, unfairly from what we can see, to her victimhood.
Almodóvar periodically inserts a series of flashback sequences involving the young Julieta (played by Adriana Ugarte), her child, and Julieta's abusive fisherman husband (Daniel Grao), and after a while, past and present create an alluring and sorrowful continuum. Almodóvar is attempting to create a continuum of genres as well, one that particularly involves the traditional Hollywood “women’s picture” and film noir. That he doesn’t altogether succeed is perhaps due to the fact that Almodóvar is too enraptured by old movie conventions to give them a new life. Grade: B (Rated R for some sexuality/nudity.)