So little was made of Julieta that it makes me think we’ve begun to take Pedro Almodovar’s women-centric melodramas for granted. This is a clever and compassionate character study, beginning as it does with its title figure in her later years (played by Emma Suárez), then switching to her life as a young woman (Adriana Ugarte) after a chance encounter forces her to reconsider her relationship with her estranged daughter. Both Suárez and Ugarte give compelling interior performances, with Ugarte perhaps having the benefit of a wider range of experiences to play (from free-spirited young lover to happy mother to grief-stricken survivor). Working from a few Alice Munro short stories, Almodovar unfolds his tale—which is largely about the complications of companionship—with a Hitchcockian sense of mystery and his own usual bursts of color. (The film’s dominant opening images are a billowing piece of red fabric and a blue envelope.) Little was made of Julieta at Cannes or elsewhere, but for my money it counts as one of the Spanish master’s better efforts.