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In his twentieth feature length film, Pedro Almodóvar has again delved into his highly particular, enigmatic world of women.

But in Julieta, which is based on three short stories by the Canadian Nobel Prize winner Alice Munro, he does it in a restrained way, without any of the extravagant camp or Grandguignol horror that characterises his earlier films. Nevertheless, Almodóvar has adapted Munro’s stories about loss, death, male infidelity, fanatical spirituality, and the fragile mother-daughter relationship in his own particular way. The 55-year-old Julieta (played by Adriana Ugarte and Emma Suárez) is a linguistics teacher who is struggling with a nervous breakdown and with her past, a mystery that bathes this melodrama in bitterness and is revealed through flashbacks and diary entries. But with music by Alberto Iglesias, the tonal palette of blue and fiery red, the numerous cultural references, and – despite brief trips to Galicia en Andalusia – the Madrid biotope that harbours so many Almodóvarian women, the director remains faithful to his past. Sober and poignant.

ES, 2016, dir.: Pedro Almodóvar, act.: Adriana Ugarte, Emma Suárez, Daniel Grao, 99 min.

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