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Julieta (film)

Julieta
Julieta poster.png
British theatrical release poster
Directed by Pedro Almodóvar
Produced by
Written by Pedro Almodóvar
Based on Runaway
by Alice Munro
Starring
Music by Alberto Iglesias
Cinematography Jean-Claude Larrieu
Edited by José Salcedo
Production
company
Distributed by Warner Bros.
(Spain)
Pathé
20th Century Fox
(United Kingdom)
Release date
  • 8 April 2016 (2016-04-08) (Spain)
Running time
96 minutes
Country Spain
Language Spanish
Box office $22.5 million[1]

Julieta is a 2016 Spanish film written and directed by Pedro Almodóvar based on three short stories from the book Runaway by Alice Munro. The film marks Almodóvar's 20th feature and stars Emma Suárez and Adriana Ugarte as older and younger versions of the film's protagonist, Julieta, alongside Daniel Grao, Inma Cuesta, Darío Grandinetti, Michelle Jenner and Rossy de Palma.

The film opened on 8 April 2016 in Spain to generally positive reviews. It made its international debut at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival, where it was selected to compete for the Palme d'Or, and was released across the world throughout the remainder of 2016. Julieta has grossed over $22 million worldwide.

It was selected by the Academia de las Artes y las Ciencias Cinematográficas de España as the Spanish entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 89th Academy Awards, but did not make the shortlist.[2] It was nominated for the BAFTA Award for Best Film Not in the English Language in addition to receiving 4 nominations for European Film Awards and 7 nominations for Goya Awards.

Plot

Julieta lives in Madrid and is about to move to Portugal with her boyfriend Lorenzo. In a chance encounter on the street with her daughter Antía's childhood friend Beatriz, she learns that Antía, from whom she has long been estranged, is living in Switzerland and has three children. Overcome by her desire to reestablish contact with Antía, she abandons plans to leave Spain and instead leases an apartment elsewhere in the building in Madrid where she raised Antía, knowing that address is Antía's only means of contacting her.

Anticipating word from Antía, and aware that she owes her daughter an explanation of the events that led to their separation, Julieta fills a journal with an account of her life as mother, spouse, and daughter. As she begins with the story of meeting Xoan, a fisherman and Antía's father. In a flashback, Julieta recounts meeting Xoan on a train, having fled to the restaurant carriage from an older man. He tells her about his life as a fisherman, and his wife who is in a coma. The train stops sharply, having hit the older man, who committed suicide. As Julieta blames herself for his death, Xoan comforts her, and they have sex on the train. Later, at the school at which she works, Julieta receives a letter from Xoan which she takes as an invitation to visit. She learns his wife has recently died and that he is with Ava, a friend. Julieta and Xoan resume their relationship, and she informs him that she is pregnant with his child. Two years later, Julieta and Antía visit Julieta's parents. Her mother is ill and apparently suffering from Alzheimer's disease, at first not recognising her daughter. Her father is having an affair with the maid, to Julieta's chagrin.

While an older Antía is at a summer camp, Xoan and Julieta argue over his occasional dalliances with Ava, prompted by the housekeeper. Julieta storms out to walk and Xoan goes fishing. A storm rolls in and, as Julieta watches the news in panic, Xoan is killed. At camp, Antía has become inseparable with a girl named Beatriz. Julieta travels to Madrid to break the news of Xoan's death, and rents a flat there. At the age of 18, Antía embarks on a spiritual retreat and announces that she will be incommunicado for three months.

When Julieta drives to the location of the retreat in the Pyrenees three months later, she is informed that her daughter has already left, and does not want her location disclosed to her mother. Julieta is racked by the loss and her attempts to find Antía are unsuccessful. The only contact she has is a blank card on her 19th, 20th and 21st birthdays. After the latter she is enraged and destroys most traces of her daughter in her life, moving from her apartment. She visits Ava, who has multiple sclerosis and is dying. Ava tells her that Antía knew about the argument that precipitated Xoan's death and blamed Julieta and Ava, and that she had ultimately internalised guilt about this because she was away at camp at the time. At Ava's funeral, Julieta meets Lorenzo and the two embark on a happy relationship, which distracts Julieta from her loss. She tells him nothing of Antía and he respects that she has some secrets in her life.

Back in the present, Lorenzo has gone to Portugal and Julieta's mental state is deteriorating as she visits places she used to go with her daughter. Beatriz encounters her, and reveals she and Antía had a lesbian relationship. After attending the spiritual retreat, Antía told Beatriz she was ashamed of it, and cut her out of her life just as she had Julieta.

Later Julieta collapses in the street but is seen by a newly-returned Lorenzo. He visits her flat where he finds a letter from Antía, which he brings to Julieta - along with her memoir, apparently unread. Antía speaks of the death of her son, which has deeply affected her and allowed her to understand how Julieta must feel at their separation. She has also included a return address. Lorenzo and Julieta drive to Switzerland and Julieta resolves not to demand an explanation, simply wishing to be with her daughter.

Cast

Production

Development

Julieta marks Almodóvar's 20th feature film.[3] The film was inspired by "Chance", "Soon" and "Silence", three short stories, from the book Runaway (2004) by Nobel Prize winning author Alice Munro, from whom Almodóvar bought the film rights in 2009.[4] He later said he specifically asked for the rights due to the pivotal scenes that take place on a train: "There is something incredibly passionate about them", he said. "A woman, on a train, and it's very cinematographic".[5] The director admitted that he had not been completely faithful to the source material,[6][7] but noted the significance of Munro's depiction of family relationships and the links between women, which he believed an important part of his adaptation.[8] It is Almodóvar's third film to be based on a foreign-language text, after Live Flesh (1997) and The Skin I Live In (2011).[9] He first titled the film Silencio (English: Silence), based on the title of one of the short stories, but changed it to Julieta in post-production to avoid confusion with Martin Scorsese's Silence, which was also released in 2016.[10]

Almodóvar originally thought Julieta would serve as his English-language film debut, with American actress Meryl Streep in the lead role, playing three versions of the character at 20, 40 and 60 years old.[11] He met with Streep, who agreed to the concept,[11] and found locations in Vancouver, Canada, where Munro based her stories.[4] He also searched for locations in the state of New York,[4] but eventually shelved the idea, unhappy at the prospect of filming in either country and uncomfortable with his ability to write and film in English.[12] Years later, members of his production team suggested that the script should be revisited but, this time, setting the film in Spain and making it in Spanish.[4]

Almodóvar revealed the film's original title, Silencio, in an interview with the Financial Times after attending a preview of the musical of his film Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown at the Playhouse Theatre, London, in January 2015.[13] Silence is "the principal element that drives the worst things that happen to the main female protagonist", Almodóvar said. He also stated that the film was a return to drama and his "cinema of women",[13] but claimed that the tone was different to that of his other feminine dramas like The Flower of My Secret (1995), All About My Mother (1999) and Volver (2006).[14] He explained that he had finished the script, but was in the process of casting.[13] In March 2015, Rossy de Palma, who frequently appears in Almodóvar's films, confirmed she had a role in the film,[15] followed by the announcement that Emma Suárez and Adriana Ugarte were playing the older and younger versions of the film's protagonist.[16] On the employment of two actresses, Almodóvar later said, "I don't trust the effects of make-up for aging, and it's almost impossible for a young woman of 25 to have the presence of someone of 50. It isn't a matter of wrinkles, it's something more profound, the passing of time, on the outside and on the inside".[5] Suárez also revealed that using two actresses was an homage to That Obscure Object of Desire (1977) by Luis Buñuel, in which two actresses also play the same character at different stages in life.[17] El Deseo revealed more casting in March 2015.[18]

In preparation for the film, Almodóvar encouraged Suárez and Ugarte to read The Year of Magical Thinking (2005), a book on mourning by U.S. author Joan Didion, and Other Lives but Mine (2009) by French writer Emmanuel Carrère for inspiration.[19] Almodóvar also recommended Suárez watch Elevator to the Gallows (1958) by Louis Malle[20] and The Hours (2002) by Stephen Daldry, and that she contemplate Lucian Freud's paintings.[21] Suárez also watched Almodóvar's complete filmography and stayed alone in Madrid to prepare for the character.[21] "It's a very tough character. For me it meant going into a pit of darkness where there is abandonment, loneliness and fear", Suárez stated in an interview.[21] She also revealed that the two actresses worked on their versions of the character independently; the couple were only together on set for the train sequence.[17]

Filming

On working with the pair, Almodóvar said: "I battled a lot with the actresses' tears, against the physical need to cry. It is a very expressive battle. It wasn't out of reservedness, but because I didn't want tears, what I wanted was dejection – the thing that stays inside after years and years of pain. I adore melodrama, it's a noble genre, a truly great genre, but I was very clear that I didn't want anything epic, I wanted something else. Simply put, this had to be a very dry, tearless film".[22] In an interview with the BBC, Almodóvar said there were comic situations in rehearsals, but he wanted to set the humour aside: "I wanted something more intense; I wanted something cleaner to make sure the message got through".[5] Almodóvar stated that he wanted to create something more austere and restrained than his previous films; he also reflected on the physical pain he had experienced in the past years which he believed to have inspired him to create a piece about solitude.[7]

Julieta went into production in April 2015[23] with Jean-Claude Larrieu as cinematographer and frequent collaborator Alberto Iglesias composing the film's score.[24] Sonia Grande, another frequent collaborator, was responsible for the film's costume design.[25] Filming was due to begin on 6 May 2015,[16] but actually commenced on 18 May 2015;[26] Madrid, the Galician Rías Altas, La Sierra in Huelva, the Pyrenees in Aragón, Panticosa and Fanlo were among the locations used for filming.[23][27][28] Almodóvar later stated that he wanted to use the deserted mountainous areas to mark a significant distance from the city of Madrid to emphasize how the characters change their outlooks on life according to the environment they are in.[29] In search of locations, Almodóvar collaborated with the Huesca Film Office.[30] Photographs from the set began to appear online towards the end of May 2015.[31] Filming was completed on 7 August 2015.[32]

Release

El Deseo first unveiled a teaser poster for the film online in July 2015,[33] followed by a teaser trailer and a new teaser poster in January 2016.[34][35] The film's international trailer and official poster were released online the following month.[36][37]

Julieta premiered at La Sala Phenomena Experience in Barcelona on 4 April 2016.[38] It was also due to be screened at the Yelmo Ideal cinema in Madrid on 6 April 2016,[39] where Almodóvar had planned to deliver interviews and have photos. However, due to the controversy surrounding his name being listed in the Panama Papers earlier that week, he cancelled the event and all other press engagements for the film in the run up to its release.[40][41] Julieta was released to the public on 8 April 2016 in Spain; a special screening was held in Almodóvar's hometown, Calzada de Calatrava, on the day to celebrate the release of his 20th feature film.[42] Though he did not attend, he recorded a special video message which was broadcast to the audience watching.[43]

After much speculation,[44][45][46] the film made its international debut at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival, where it was in competition for the Palme d'Or,[47][48] Almodóvar's fifth film to be selected for the competition. It was then released on 18 May in France,[49] 26 May in Italy,[50] and 23 June in Brazil.[51] In June, Julieta also screened out-of-competition at the Sydney Film Festival,[52] followed by its opening of the Jerusalem Film Festival and the Queensland Film Festival in July.[53][54] It was also released on 8 July in Mexico.[55] In the UK, the film received its premiere at Somerset House, London, in a special event in which Almodóvar made an appearance,[56] followed by its general release to the British public on 26 August.[57] In the USA, Julieta debuted at the New York Film Festival,[58] before being released to the American public on 21 December 2016,[59] distributed by Sony Pictures Classics, their ninth Almodóvar picture,[60] with its sales handled by FilmNation Entertainment, their third Almodóvar film.[61] In Canada, it was shown at the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival.[62]

Reception

Critical reception

Director and stars at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival.

Reviews for Julieta were generally favourable and much less critical than those Almodóvar received for his previous film I'm So Excited (2013). Rotten Tomatoes gave Julieta a score of 84% based on reviews from 160 critics;[63] Metacritic gave the film a weighted score of 73/100, based on 31 critiques, which indicates "generally favourable reviews".[64]

The film drew praise from critics in Spain, including La Vanguardia, who compared Julieta to the female-centric films of George Cukor and Kenji Mizoguchi while noting hints of Alfred Hitchcock in Almodóvar's screenplay.[65] Alfonso Rivera of Cineuropa additionally observed influences of Ingmar Bergman, Krzysztof Kieślowski and Douglas Sirk in Almodóvar's style.[66] Vicente Molina Fox from El País believed Almodóvar had achieved the best script of his career with Julieta,[67] while Luis Martínez of El Mundo, despite finding issues with the narrative, thought Julieta was Almodóvar's "most difficult and most pure film".[68] Spanish edition of Vanity Fair also called it "the most Almodóvar film by Almodóvar".[69] Quim Casas from El Periódico de Catalunya said that Almodóvar had reinvented melodrama: "Prodigious in dramatic tone, Julieta is very Almodóvarian but at the same time different to other works by the auteur".[70] ABC gave the film a mixed review; praising Suárez in the lead role but criticising narrative choices.[71] Carlos Boyero (es), the "sworn critical enemy" of Almodóvar,[72] penned an extremely negative review in El País, feeling distanced and unable to identify with the characters because of the film's style and cinematography. Boyero stated that "the film conveys nothing to me, either emotionally or artistically".[73] El Confidencial also responded negatively, calling the film "a barren drama", "unsubtle" and "self-indulgent".[74]

Julieta had a warm reception at the Cannes Film Festival, which was followed by extremely positive reactions from French film critics.[75][76] According to AlloCiné, based on 29 reviews from critics in France, Julieta received an average rating of 4.5 out of 5,[75] making it the best reviewed film released in France in 2016.[77] Numerous sources such as Cahiers du Cinéma, Le Monde, Positif, Ouest-France and Le Parisien gave the film their highest five-star rating.[75] Le Monde called it "a beautiful film of very pure sadness"[78] and La Croix who thought the theme of guilt was a welcome new addition to Almodóvar's work, calling Julieta "a beautiful and intense film".[79] L'Express thought Almodóvar had returned to the top of his game with Julieta, calling it "a work constantly on the edge, never overwhelmed by its own emotions, deliberately cold [and] even austere".[80] Libération gave a positive review, but felt the film was "too well-oiled" which prevented the drama of the story from "truly expressing all its power of emotional attraction".[81] However, L'Humanité was largely negative, concluding that "the film is very narrative and severely short of breath".[82]

The British press were very positive about the film: Screen Daily labelled the film "an anxious, tantalising creature which returns the Spanish director to the exclusive world of women" and stated that Almodóvar's "distinctive voice [grows] in texture and depth with each new production".[83] Empire also responded very positively, calling the film "a celebration of elegance and good living as well as motherly love and romance".[84] Time Out singled out the cinematography, design, costumes and Iglesia's score as "typically exquisite", concluding that: "It might be familiar territory for Almodóvar, but only a master of his art could make it look so easy".[85] The Daily Telegraph called the film a "guilt-soaked pleasure" and also highlighted its score and cinematography as well as the performances of Suárez and Ugarte.[86] London Evening Standard labelled the film "a harrowing examination of broken maternity and ever-present mortality", stating that the film is "excellently acted, brightly filmed [and] seriously good".[87] Gay Star News highlighted the "visually resplendent" cinematography and "sensitive" acting performances, concluding that "all the Almodóvar trademarks are here, and he's as flamboyant and fun as ever – but there's a seriousness to this familial drama that's as compelling as it is deeply satisfying".[88] The Guardian thought the film was a "fluent and engaging work", stating that "the colours – and the women – pop in the Spanish auteur's adaptation of three Alice Munro stories, but there's something intentionally unsatisfying at the heart of this minor work".[89] Sight & Sound felt Almodóvar had "play[ed] it straighter than usual" and felt a disconnect between the visual and the emotional elements, which undermined the "nuanced realism" of the two lead performances, calling the film "a surprisingly flat offering from Spain's most vibrant auteur".[90] The Spectator also felt that "the gloss ends up cramping the story" and concluded that "the film could have used more of the classic Almodóvar weirdness".[91]

American critics tended to have more mixed feelings, like Collider.com, who called the film "an engaging yet uneven meldodrama",[92] and Variety, who stated that while the film was "a welcome return to the female-centric storytelling that has earned Almodóvar his greatest acclaim, it is far from this reformed renegade's strongest or most entertaining work".[93] Similarly mixed, Slant Magazine thought Julieta was not one of Almodóvar's best films, but most compelling because of "the bold, colorful compositions and framings that [he] has long mastered, which sketch psychological detail more acutely than Julieta's methodically orchestrated and rather sluggish story".[94] Twitch Film felt the mellowness of Munro's work did not adapt well to Almodóvar's melodramatic style, concluding that "Almodóvar seems content to let his past strengths wither in favour of banality".[95] Indiewire also thought the director played too safe and called Julieta his most conventional film.[96] The Hollywood Reporter felt the film would satisfy fans of Almodóvar, but was too decorous in comparison to his previous films: "a politeness that's quite unlike the lusty vulgarity of the past. Some of us may not be sure we like it".[97] However, TheWrap thought that "a subdued Almodóvar is still a far sight weirder and more intriguing than most directors", adding that the film is "a worthy part of a canon in which decorous should never be confused with dull".[98]

Box office

In Spain, the film opened in 203 cinemas. Over its opening weekend, it attracted 79,523 spectators, making €585,989.[99] This was reportedly Almodóvar's worst opening at the Spanish box office in 20 years.[100] Agustín Almodóvar later admitted that the film being a drama and not a comedy, made it harder to sell to a mainstream audience, coupled with the Panama Papers scandal which provoked Almodóvar to halt all press engagements in the run up to Julieta's release were the two main factors in the disappointing box office results.[101] In its first week, Julieta made €1,180,017 in Spain, making it the fifth-highest grossing film of the week, but was overshadowed by films like The Jungle Book and Kiki, el amor se hace (es).[102] It stayed at number 5 the following week, but the film's earnings dropped by 43%, making €348,515.[103][104] Box office takings then continued to fall; earning €220,000 in its third week,[105] then €119,131 in its fourth,[106] before falling out of the top 10 to number 17 in its fifth week.[107][108] The film made a total of $2.4 million in Spain.[109]

Julieta became the second-highest grossing film of the week when it opened in France,[110] and grossed over $4.9 million in the country.[109] In Italy, it debuted as the fourth-highest grossing film of the week and went on to accumulate $2.4 million.[109] In the UK, Julieta made £1.1 million ($1.5 million) in its first three weeks, becoming the highest-grossing non-Bollywood foreign language film at the UK box office since 2012 comedy The Intouchables.[111] Overall, it made $1.7 million in the UK.[109] In the USA, it has made $839,000.[109] Worldwide, the film has grossed a total of $22.3 million at the box office.[109]

Accolades

Before its release, the Los Angeles Times predicted that the film could be an Academy Award contender.[112] In September 2016, the Spanish Academy selected Julieta as the Spanish entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 89th Academy Awards.[113][114][115] In December 2016, Julieta was eliminated from the competition and did not make the shortlist.[116]

List of awards and nominations
Year Award Category Recipient(s) Result Ref(s)
2016 Alliance of Women Film Journalists Best Non-English-Language Film Pedro Almodóvar Nominated [117][118]
Cannes Film Festival Palme d'Or Pedro Almodóvar Nominated [48]
Chicago Film Critics Association Best Foreign Language Film Julieta Nominated [119]
Critics' Choice Awards Best Foreign Language Film Julieta Nominated [120]
European Film Awards Best Film Julieta Nominated [121]
Best Director Pedro Almodóvar Nominated
Best Actress Emma Suárez Nominated
Adriana Ugarte Nominated
San Diego International Film Festival Best International Film Julieta Won [122]
Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Best Foreign Language Film Julieta Nominated [123]
Women Film Critics Circle Best Foreign Film by or about Women Julieta Nominated [124]
2017 AARP Annual Movies for Grownups Awards Best Screenwriter Pedro Almodóvar Nominated [125]
British Academy Film Awards Best Film Not in the English Language Julieta Nominated [126]
Goya Awards Best Film Julieta Nominated [127]
Best Director Pedro Almodóvar Nominated
Best Adapted Screenplay Pedro Almodóvar Nominated
Best Actress Emma Suárez Won
Best Original Score Alberto Iglesias Nominated
Best Hair and Makeup Ana López-Puigcerver, Sergio Perez Berbel and David Martí Nominated
Best Special Effects Kings Abbots and Eduardo Diaz Nominated
National Board of Review Top 5 Foreign Films Julieta Won [128]
Premios Feroz Best Drama Film Julieta Nominated [129][130]
Best Director Pedro Almodóvar Nominated
Best Screenplay Pedro Almodóvar Nominated
Best Actress Emma Suárez Nominated
Adriana Ugarte Nominated
Best Supporting Actress Rossy de Palma Nominated
Best Original Soundtrack Alberto Iglesias Nominated
Best Trailer Julieta Nominated
Best Poster Julieta Nominated
Satellite Awards Best Foreign Language Film Julieta Nominated [131]

See also

References

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