Pedro Almodóvar's 20th feature, "Julieta," is based on a trio of Alice Munro stories. The director brings some of his signature style -- a flair for color and locale, a deeply sympathetic connection to his female characters -- to this project. But, as the director himself notes in both of the special features that accompany this Sony Classics Blu-ray, he made it a point to exercise greater restraint than in his previous projects.
Julieta is played by two different actresses, and her story unfolds as a flashback within a contemporary setting, with a couple of decades elapsing in between -- long enough for her daughter to have grown up and grown away from her. As a young woman (played by Adriana Ugarte), Julieta falls in love with a fisherman named Xoan (Daniel Grao) and remakes her life as a teacher of classical literature to relocate to the seaside village where he lives and works.
Marital tensions and tragedy divert the course of her life once more and leading to an older Julieta (Emma Suárez) seeking to reconcile with her daughter Antía (Blanca Parés) -- with whom she has had virtually no contact since her teen years. The film is melodrama, significantly more sober and downbeat than classic Almodóvar, but its "own your own emotional baggage" theme is hard-edged and useful.
This Blu-ray includes two brief featurettes. "Portrait of Julieta" consists of interviews with the cast and crew, along with clips of the film in production.
"Celebrating Director Pedro Almodóvar," the second feature, is made up of footage taken at the MOMA retrospective celebrating the director's milestone 20th film, and welcoming him home to the place where he launched his career as a professional filmmaker.
If you were initially unsure about this movie -- as was I, to be honest -- a fresh look is in order. I'd wanted another "Women on the Verge," "Law of Desire," or "I'm So Excited," but it's worth remembering that Almodóvar's more serious films have also commanded serious critical plaudits -- think "Talk to Her," or "The Flower of My Secret." Almodóvar may be madly creative, but he doesn't have to be a madman with all of his movies.