Photography by Gavin Bond. Photographed at Gordon’s Bar, London, on August 9, 2016. Groomer: Hamilton Stansfield for SL Reps.
Pedro Almodóvar says he tends to live in the present, but this September found him lamenting his youth. “I miss the energy of being in my 20s,” he says. “I’ve been out and comfortable with myself since I was 16, and I was always surrounded by people, but my life is more solitary now.” As a filmmaker, Almodóvar has long explored memory, but he says it became an especially intense theme for him after the release of Bad Education (2004), his lusciously queer dreamscape of a thriller, and the movie he’s finally comfortable calling the best he’s ever made.
If Bad Education and its virile carnality marked Almodóvar’s euphoric recall of his younger days, then his latest film, the deeply sobering Julieta, is a wistful, feminized reflection of his current solitude. Also fueled by memory, the movie, which was shortlisted for the Palme d’Or at Cannes this year and hits theaters in December, sees the title character (played in present day by Emma Suárez) looking back on the tumultuous span of nearly her whole life, a structure that’s surely personal for Almodóvar, now 67.
But while he had to endure the crippling effects of back surgery to complete it, the Spanish director’s 20th film is by no means his swan song (he currently has three more in the works), nor is its stoic drama as much of a departure as it may seem. “Passion” is his favorite word; it’s as present in Julieta as in anything else he’s done. “I love passion in terms of sexuality and desire,” he says, “but also as the fuel of life. When I finish a film, it makes me feel like I can keep on living.”