In realm of international cinema, very few names carry the immense weight as Pedro Almodovar. The Spanish maestro, who has been a major influential force in modern filmmaking since the 1980s, was just in Cannes with his latest work, Julieta, the follow-up to his wild-eyed, hilarious I’m So Excited. Julieta received largely positive praise, and that’s been a bit of a constant for the director, as his vibrant stylistic sensibilities and his focus on matters of sexuality, memory, and gender have made him a consistently fascinating and visually daring artist. He’s already delivered one masterpiece this decade – 2011’s The Skin I Live In – and he’s already reportedly well into preparations for his next film.
Considering his reputation, one has to wonder how Almodovar hasn’t arrived in America for an English-language debut yet. Well, as it turns out, he was on the verge of making Julieta his first film made in the native stateside tongue, but a small crisis of confidence made him step back from that. In an interview with Variety, which also touches on Almodovar’s inclusion on the now-notorious Panama Papers, Almodovar describes the preparations that went into getting Julieta together, originally as an English-language melodrama, and a big name came attached to the production: Meryl Streep. The legendary actress was meant to play the titular role, and age along with the role in real time, whereas now the role is played by two separate performers.
I honestly can’t think of a better pairing than Streep and Almodovar. The actress’s talents have often come into greatest relief in melodramas, as well as comedies and thrillers, and Almodovar is the undisputed king of modern melodrama. One can imagine her amongst the hash of unique women in the director’s now-classic All About My Mother, and it’s easy to imagine her finding a comfortable place to push even her flexible boundaries under the direction of the man behind such wonders as Talk to Her, Bad Education, and Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!. “At the last minute, I felt insecure,” is how Almodovar explains what happened, and though one has to respect his honesty, the dream of him collaborating with Streep is enough to haunt any cinephile for a fortnight.