Carmen (2023)

June 20th, 2023
Author: Meredith Taylor

Dir: Benjamin Millepied | Cast: Paul Mescal, Rossy de Palma, Melissa Barrera | Musical Drama 116′

Spectacular to watch with its neon-enfused aesthetic, Benjamin Milllepied’s reimagining of Prosper Merimee’s Andalusian-set romance gets a Mexican makeover, but suffers an emotional bypass in the process. 

The enigmatic and strangely un-involving storyline poses more questions than it answers – to those uninitiated with the original – and the gutsy musical interludes scored by breakout composer Nicholas Britell (Succession) feel disconnected from the plot but provide much needed entertainment to carry us through the two hour running time. 

Paul Mescal is the star turn and, as ever, a magnetic presence as Aidan, tearing up a treat with his macho vulnerability but seemingly in a different film from the one starring his titular lover (Melissa Barrera) and Rossi de Palma’s Masilda. The opening sequence is one of the strongest and sees Carmen’s fiesty flamenco dancer mother gunned down by a drug gangster while strutting her stuff on a wooden platform in the dazzling deserts of Chihuahua (actually it’s New South Wales). The film returns to this tragedy in repeated flashbacks. Barrera is stunning as Carmen but can’t sing to save her life.   

After the shooting Carmen sets fire to her family home and escapes across the border to Texas where she meets ex-marine Mescal who finds himself working with the baddies to pick up illegal migrants. After a brush-up with one of the other patrolman Aidan goes on the run taking the reluctant Carmen with him. And apart from the intoxicating settings he’s the only reason to watch this. MT


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