May 19, 202360/1005 min
Melissa Berrera, Paul Mescal, Elsa Pataky, Rossy de Palma
Written by
Loïc Barrere(written by), Alexander Dinelaris ( screenplay), Lisa Loomer ( previous screenplay) , Prosper Mérimée( novella)
Directed by
Benjamin Millepied
Run Time
1h 56min
Release Date
May 19th, 2023
Overall Score
Rating Summary

           In 1845 Prosper Mérimée has his novella “Carmen” first published, it was inspired by a story he heard while visiting Spain. The novella would become one of his best pieces of work and would inspire countless retellings, including the Opera and countless movies, most famously Carmen Jones from 1954. Stories like this don’t go away and the novella continues to inspire as director Benjamin Millepied delivers his telling his version inspired by this classic tale.

          Somewhere in northern Mexico, Carmen (Melissa Barrera) and her mother live in a remote area. That changes when Carmen’s mother is killed and she must flee. She heads for the border of the Southern United States where she plans to connect with family in Los Angeles. Meanwhile in some border town in South Texas, Aidan (Paul Mescal) tries to find meaning in his life again after two deployments in Afghanistan. Carmen and Aidan are two worlds away, but one faithful evening they would be brought together. Aidan and a friend are patrolling the border when they come across Carmen and her group. Aidan’s compadre shows no regard for human life and starts shooting people, but when he gets to Carmen, Aidan shoots him instead. At first Carmen tries to escape from Aidan, but with their common need to flee what just happen, they start to head to the City of Angels together. Along the way they fall in love, a love that burns hot and even with the police on their trail, there is nothing that can cool this couple down.

This version is written by Loïc Barrere, Alexander Dinelaris, and Lisa Loomer, but what is said in Carmen, is a lot less impressive than what is seen. Millepied, who was a dancer and helped choreograph the dance sequences in Black Swan, does the same here as they are beautiful to watch.  He and cinematographer Jörg Widmer deliver a thing of beauty and is purely captivating and almost dreamlike while being an ode to heritage. This is a love story, but one that was doomed from the beginning as Carmen and Aidan both had to abandon what they know, but together, in some way, are trying to find it again. When it comes to our two lovers, Barrera is dynamite and like her performance in In the Heights, this feels like a natural fit for her. The surprise is in Mescal who thrives in this very specific genre and together with Barrera give Carmen the fire of its story.

              Filled with Modern dance and realism that is magical, Millepied shows us something that is bold and unique. Carmen toes the line of being a musical and a drama, but the magic lies in the beautiful imagery. With that said, the plot seems to be a second thought as things are vaguely acknowledged in the background and at one point the narrative just kind of stops. For me though that didn’t matter much as virtually everything else is completely watchable, Carmen can be  electrifying and entrancing and will be difficult to shake after the credits roll.

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