The opera Carmen gets a quote “reimagining” in a new film with that title, jettisoning the classic stage numbers but maintaining tenuous links. Yes to song, dance, a solider, and a lady in red named Carmen. Yes to an arty sense and tragic elements as director Benjamin Millepied (mill-pee-aa), a French choreographer, resets action to Mexico, the southwest, and Los Angeles for the story of two disparate people forced to go on the run together after a border crossing turned bad. The director starts events with striking visuals of a woman dancing ferociously in the kind of isolated desert Clint Eastwood’s man with no name used to ride around. Dance and vista both look great, and the combination of movement and visuals remain the film’s strongest points. Those visuals include casting; Melissa Barrera, a strong singer from In the Heights; Paul Mescal, the best actor nominees from Aftersun, and Rossy de Palma, a favorite from Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar, who describes her as a quote “cubist beauty.” Her strong, long features seem right out of a Picasso painting, which makes her ideal for Carmen director Millepied in his quest for striking imagery. As for story, he invents a mild one that puts his lead characters on the road, running from the law even though their crimes have justifiable causes. The specifics of their journey come off with less impact than the sidetracking that leads to song and dance—the director’s specialty that he displays with impressive flair.
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