First Hit:  With superb casting, this was a well-crafted story of life, loss and love.

Pedro Almodovar writes and directs thoughtful films and this one is another wonderful offering. Almodovar shoots this film by going back and forth between Julieta’s younger life and older life.

Here we have a young woman Julieta (Adriana Ugarte plays a young Julieta and Emma Suarez as the older Julieta) who is married to Xoan (Daniel Grao) and together they have a young girl named Antia (Priscilla Delgado – adolescent). Antia is close with her father and fishes with him often. As a young mother, Julieta is slightly distant and provides most of the structure in their household. During one summer Antia goes to camp and while away, tragedy strikes.

After this tragedy, Julieta’s distant malaise and distance grows and she is falling apart. Antia and her close friend Beatriz (Sara Jimenez – adolescent and Michelle Jenner as an adult Beatriz) take care of Julieta. However, after Antia turns 18 (Blanca Pares – young adult) she leaves for a retreat and never returns or is heard from again.

Julieta is lost. She lost her husband and now her daughter. Her guilt is that she caused her husband’s death because of a disagreement, and with her daughter disappearing she is hopeless.

This film tracks Julieta’s sadness and slow discovery of how she needs to change her life to get it back. The scenes that show the depth of her despair were Antia’s birthdays that Julieta celebrated alone by making a cake, lighting the candles and then throwing the cake away. This film is about loss, communication, love, and the possibility of resolution.

The choice of actors for both the young and older Julieta was amazing because there was no change in the spiritual energy or depth of character in either of these actors.

Ugarte and Suarez were amazingly sublime in their role as Julieta both young and old. The ease in which I (the audience) moved from one to the other is a testimony to their acting greatness and the casting director. Grao in his small role was wonderful. Delgado as young Antia was very good. She carried a beautiful strength when caring for her mother. Pares was strong as the older Antia and did a nice job of moving the character into adulthood. Jimenez was great as Antia’s close childhood friend Beatriz. Jenner was very good as the older Beatriz. Dario Grandinetti was very strong as Lorenzo, Julieta’s lover and friend as an adult. Almodovar did a wonderful job of crafting and telling this story as writer and director.

Overall:  This was a very strong film by Almodovar.