In Julieta, critically acclaimed director Pedro Almodovar tells a story about a motherâ€™s struggle to survive uncertainty and come to grips with fate. Julieta lives in Madrid with her daughter, Antia. They are both in pain over the loss of Xoan, Antiaâ€™s father and Julietaâ€™s husband. But sometimes grief doesnâ€™t bring people closer, it drives them apart. When Antia turns eighteen, she abandons her mother without a word of explanation. Julieta is haunted by the mystery of this loss and it pervades everything in her life. Her struggle and obsession lead to self-discovery and surprising revelations.
Critic Pauline Kael neatly summed up the timeless appeal of FranÃ§ois Truffaut's 1976 film by calling it "that rarity--a poetic comedy that's really funny." In other words, Truffaut's brilliant, upbeat study of resilient children in a French village is both artistically satisfying and joyously entertaining, proving yet again (after his acclaimed debut film The 400 Blows) that few directors remembered and understood the experience of childhood as clearly as Truffaut. The film's episodic structure reveals its young characters gradually, leaving them and returning to them as their individual stories unfold. Most of the sketches are hilarious (as when a little girl uses a megaphone to announce that she's been "abandoned," resulting in generous gifts of food from her surrounding neighbors), but there's also a story about a boy with abusive parents who learns to survive by his own ingenuity. Throughout, this remarkable film gets all the details precisely right, featuring a youthful cast of kids who don't seem to be acting at all. It's as if Truffaut had somehow gained privileged entrance into their world, and they carried on as if the camera simply wasn't there. (Another French film, Ponette, would achieve a similar, more heartbreaking feat two decades later.) --Jeff Shannon