Midway through director Pedro Almodóvar’s lovely treatment of guilt and its attendant sorrows, the titular character pays a visit to her parents in their new home on a small farm. Mom is failing in mind and body, and Julieta is quick to determine that Dad is getting more than help from the pretty live-in assistant. “Be a bit more generous and understanding with me,” he pleads, but Julieta can’t get over her resentment on Mom’s behalf — even though she herself had a one night stand with a man whose wife was in a coma, and conceived her daughter in the process. The ensuing estrangement proves karmic, and the moral of the story is clear: watch out for morals. They corrode the aforementioned generosity and understanding, leaving us lonely and bereft. (They may corrode other things as well: the only woman who actually advocates thwarting desire is also the only one who is not thoroughly gorgeous, and she’s miserable to boot.) It’s a seductive claim, especially given the director’s ravishing visuals and deep sympathy for the suffering souls in this amorality tale. You may have to narrow your vision a bit to accept it, but goodness gracious, what a view. (2016) — Matthew Lickona
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